Ben Thomas

  • Ben
  • Thomas

  • Head Coach Cross Country &
    Distance Coach

Ben Thomas has been Virginia Tech’s head cross country coach and distance coach since coming back to his alma mater with Dave Cianelli, Tech director of track and field and cross country, in 2001. During Thomas’ 16 years at Tech, the Hokies have emerged as contenders in not only the Atlantic Coast Conference, but also nationally. Thomas possesses a familiarity with the Hokies’ program, having competed in cross country and running middle distance events in track for Virginia Tech from 1987-92.

Contact Coach Thomas
Phone: (540) 231-9978

Born: May 4, 1969
Hometown: Lynchburg, Va.
Wife: Ann McGranahan
Children: Reilly and Seamus

High School: E.C. Glass School
College: Virginia Tech (B.A. in English, 1992)
Postgraduate: Lynchburg College (M.A. in education, 1999)

Virginia Tech (1987-92)

Coaching Experience
1992-94Assistant track and field coach, E.C. Glass [Va.] High School
1994-95Assistant cross country coach, Blacksburg [Va.] High School
1995-99Head women's cross country and assistant track coach, Appalachian State
1999-2000Head track and field and cross country coach, Brevard [N.C.] College
2000-01Assistant track and field coach, University of Georgia
2001-currentHead cross country and distance coach, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech (2001-Present)
  • 29 NCAA All-Americans (View a complete list)
  • 59 NCAA All-America Honors
  • 27th-place men’s team finish at 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships
  • 22nd-place men’s team finish at 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships
  • 25th-place women's team finish at 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships
  • 18th-place women's team finish at 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships
  • 27 NCAA Championships cross country participants
  • 29 NCAA All-Region cross country runners
  • Two NCAA Southeast Region cross country champions
  • 19 All-ACC cross country runners
  • 45 conference championships (View a complete list)
  • 25 conference champions
  • Two ACC cross country champions
  • USTFCCCA National Men's Assistant Coach of the Year (2017)
  • 2012 ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year
  • USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year (2013, 2015)
  • One BIG EAST Champion (track)
  • One All-BIG EAST cross country runner

  • Brevard College (1999-01)
  • One three-time NAIA National Champion
  • One two-time Olympian
  • Two Cross Country World Championship qualifiers
  • 2000 NAIA Region XII men's and women's team champions
  • 1999 NAIA Region XII Coach of the Year
  • 1999 NAIA Region XII men's team champion

    Appalachian State (1995-99)
  • One two-time NCAA National Champion
  • 1996, 1998 & 1999 North Carolina Collegiate team champion
  • 1996 Southern Conference champion
  • 1996 Southern Conference Coach of the Year
  • Thomas’ distance runners enjoyed arguably the best season in program history during the 2016-17 academic year, and that resulted in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association naming Thomas the 2017 National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. He became the first ACC assistant coach ever to win this award.

    In the fall, the Tech women’s cross country team finished third at the 2016 ACC Championships – the program’s best ever finish at the conference meet – while the men came in fourth, which marked the seventh top-five finish for the Hokies since the school joined the ACC for the 2004-05 academic year. Katie Kennedy, Andrew Gaiser, Daniel Jaskowak each earned All-ACC and All-Southeast Region honors for the first time.

    The 2017 distance runners, though, enjoyed more success during the track and field seasons. In fact, seven distance runners won individual ACC championships, paving the way for the Tech men’s team to sweep the ACC team titles at both the league’s indoor and outdoor meets. During the indoor season, Patrick Joseph (800) and Vincent Ciattei (mile) won gold medals at the ACC Championships, and during the outdoor campaign, Drew Piazza (800), Neil Gourley (1,500) and Peter Seufer (10,000) claimed gold medals at the league’s meet.

    Hanna Green headlined the 2017 women’s group, as she won three ACC titles and was a silver medalist in the 800-meter run at both NCAA Championships (indoor and outdoor). Green’s gold medals in the 800 and 1,500, and Sarah Edwards’ gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, helped the Tech women’s team win its first ACC team title since 2008.

    During Thomas’ tenure, the Tech men’s and women’s track and field teams have combined to win 12 ACC team titles. In particular, the men’s team has been on a roll of late, having finished no worse than fifth place at the ACC’s indoor and outdoor meets in each of the past nine years. The men’s team won the indoor team title in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and won outdoor crowns in 2012, 2016 and 2017.

    Thomas also guided the men’s cross country team to the 2012 ACC team title and to two NCAA Championships (2012 and 2016) during his time at Tech. In 2012, he received the league’s Coach of the Year honor, as Will Mulherin won the ACC individual title to lead the Hokies to the team crown. Mulherin and Thomas Curtin (2015) are the only two Tech runners to win an ACC individual cross country crown.

    Thomas has a knack for getting the most out of his runners. Green came to Tech as an unheralded recruit, but led the Tech women to an 11th-place finish at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships – the program’s second-best finish ever. She became arguably the best female distance runner in school history, as she earned first-team All-America honors during the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2017 and departed as a six-time All-American.

    Also, Piazza transferred to Tech from New Hampshire and became a two-time, first-team All-American in 2017, nearly winning the school’s first national title in distance running after finishing second in the 800 at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships. Gourley was a two-time, first-team All-American as well, and during the 2015-16 season, Curtin, another unheralded recruit, won the ACC cross country title and then gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the ACC Outdoor Championships. He earned All-America honors in all three disciplines during the 2015-16 campaign.

    Overall, the 2017 collection of distance runners earned 14 All-America honors combined during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Such success comes as no surprise. Thomas now has coached 29 All-Americans at Tech, and those 29 have combined to earn 59 All-America honors. Also, he has coached 25 conference champions since coming to Blacksburg and those 25 have combined to win 45 conference titles.

    The 2016-17 performances only continued the Hokies’ success in distance running. In 2015-16, Thomas guided the Tech men’s cross country team to an NCAA berth, and the Hokies finished 27th as a team in just the program’s second NCAA appearance since 1987. In the fall of 2014, Thomas led the Tech women’s cross country team to an NCAA berth and a top-25 finish. The NCAA appearance marked just the second in the program’s history.

    Under Thomas’ leadership, the cross country programs have flourished. In 2006, the Tech women’s team made the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history, and the Hokies finished 18th. The Hokie women reached the national meet following a third-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional that year behind an unprecedented five all-region performers. Two years later, Thomas helped Tasmin Fanning to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships – the highest finish by a Tech athlete in school history.

    Before arriving in Blacksburg, Thomas served as the men’s and women’s distance coach at the University of Georgia. Prior to that, he was the head track and field and cross country coach at Brevard College in North Carolina. At Brevard, Thomas was named 1999 NAIA Region XII Coach of the Year after leading the men’s cross country team to the NAIA Region XII title. Before Brevard, Thomas was the women’s cross country coach and assistant track coach at Appalachian State University from 1995-99.

    A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Thomas earned a B.A. in English from Tech in 1992 before completing coursework for an M.A., in education from Lynchburg College in 1999. Thomas began his coaching career with the track and field team at E.C. Glass High School (1992-94) in Lynchburg and later coached cross country at Blacksburg High (1994-95).

    Thomas, his wife, Ann McGranahan, and their children, Reilly and Seamus, reside in Blacksburg.