A New Tradition
Nov. 4, 2000
By Curtis Webb, Fresno State Media Relations
One might believe the Fresno State track and field program has lost something after the retirement of longtime coach Red Estes. In fact, the Bulldogs have lost a coach of 36 years who may be irreplaceable, however, what the program has lost in Estes it has gained in first-year coaches Joe Gonzales and Shannon Lieder. The tradition will no doubt continue in an upward and outward manner as both coaches bring experience and fresh ideas in a variety of different areas.
Gonzales is coaching men's distance and has already guided the men's cross country team to a solid third place finish at the WAC Championships. He began his coaching career at Exeter, where he started as a volunteer assistant for the cross country team in 1990. In '95, he became the head cross country coach for both boys and girls. He then served as the head track and field coach at Exeter from 1998-00.
In his ten years at Exeter, Gonzales led the girls' cross country team to five league championships and one section championship and a runner-up finish at another section meet. With the girls' track and field team he won wo league titles. He directed the boys' cross country team to two league championships and a second place finish in the section championships.
The responsibilities of coaching at the collegiate level has been a new experience, however Gonzales continues to preach the same philosophy that worked for him at Exeter "I haven't changed my approach any from high school," Gonzales said. "The athletes run longer distances in college, but I coach the same way as I did before. I'm still continuing to learn and grow, though."
Working with collegiate athletes has been rewarding, yet challenging for Gonzales. Even after a strong performance from the men's team at the conference meet, Gonzales had to remind his runners of what they had accomplished.
"The team was feeling down, because they knew they had a good shot at winning the team title," Gonzales said. "But I let them know I was disappointed for them - not in them. They ran as hard as they could and I'm proud of their performance."
The season may have commenced in a difficult fashion for the new coach. Injuries and sickness hampered the team's health. However, Gonzales refused to let panic set in, and as a result, the Bulldogs are only getting stronger.
"This year did start out tough," Gonzales said. "But I didn't panic. I did my best to bring them back from injuries and we've really progressed. Working with men that are so intense and talented has been very enjoyable."
Lieder is no stranger to the Fresno State program. She is now handling women's distance and cross country, her specialty during an athletic career at Fresno State from 1989-93. She was a fine runner in her days as a Bulldog, earning All-America status in the indoor 800 meters in 1993. Lieder still holds the school records in the 800 meters (2:07.03) and the 1,500 meters (4:24.68). She also ranks ninth on the Fresno State women's all-time 5,000 meters list in cross country when she recorded a time of 17:36 in 1992.
"The experience has been great," Lieder said. "I've enjoyed it tremendously. It's a challenging job for me, because I'm very competitive and I want to compete at a high level."
Lieder knows what it takes to be successful. She is using her accomplishments as a base to teach her runners the technique they need to instill into their own life.
"I've used a lot of my own personal experience as an athlete in my coaching," Lieder said. "I always want my runners to know how much of an investment it is to be a runner. I preach that it's not something you can take lightly and be successful in. It takes a certain amount of natural talent, but more than that it takes hard work and discipline. You have to live like an athlete in all aspects of life."
It is evident the track and field program has not been deprived of any tradition, it is now only been reinforced. Gonzales' experience as a coach in the Valley is greatly benefiting the Fresno State system. Lieder's success under the tutelage of Estes only will help her become a greater teacher of the sport. So while Estes' abscense will be felt, the tandem of Gonzales and Lieder will be more than enough to satisfy the goals of Fresno State track and field.