Ben Thomas has been Virginia Tech’s head cross country coach and distance coach since 2001. During his time at Tech, the Hokies have emerged as contenders in not only the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA Southeast Region, but also the entire nation. Thomas is extremely familiar with the Hokie program, having competed in cross country and middle distance for Tech from 1987-92.
|1992-94||Assistant track and field coach, E.C. Glass [Va.] High School|
|1994-95||Assistant cross country coach, Blacksburg [Va.] High School|
|1995-99||Head women’s cross country and assistant track coach, Appalachian State|
|1999-2000||Head track and field and cross country coach, Brevard [N.C.] College|
|2000-01||Assistant track and field coach, University of Georgia|
|2001-current||Head cross country and distance coach, Virginia Tech|
The 2014-15 season turned out to be a memorable one for Tech’s distance runners, as both Thomas Curtin and Hanna Green earned All-America honors during the track and field seasons. Curtin was an All-American in both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs at the 2015 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships and in the 5,000 at the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Green earned All-America honors in the 800 at both NCAA events, finishing in third place at the NCAA’s outdoor meet.
Other All-America performances from the distance runners came from Patrick Joseph (mile) and the quartet of Juan Campos, Prince Owusu, Grant Pollock and Neil Gourley (distance medley relay), both during the indoor season.
Curtin and Joseph won ACC titles at both league events last year, with Curtin winning two in the 5,000 and Joseph winning the mile at the league’s indoor meet and the 800 during at the league’s outdoor meet. Green captured the 800 title at the ACC indoor meet.
Also, in 2014, the Tech women’s cross country squad received a bid to the NCAA Championships for just the second time in the program’s history. Tech finished fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals behind all-region honorees Sarah Rapp, Paige Kvartunas, Shannon Morton and Hilary Krein, which led to the Hokies receiving the at-large bid. Tech went on to finish 25th at the event.
Both cross country programs enjoyed a tremendous amount of success during the 2013 season as well, as two runners, Curtin and Rapp, were both NCAA qualifiers. In addition to both Curtin and Rapp, Courtney Dobbs joined the two on the All-ACC and all-region teams. At the ACC Championship, Curtin finished second overall.
The 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons proved to be successful for Thomas and his runners. Under Thomas’ guidance, Will Mulherin and the distance medley relay team consisting of Ryan Hagen, Jeff Artis-Gray, Tihut Degfae and Michael Hammond were all named All-Americans. The distance corps picked up six ACC championship titles, four during the indoor season and two during the outdoor season. For his efforts in preparing his athletes for competition during the indoor season, Thomas was named the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. In all, Thomas produced five All-Americans, six individual conference champions and 10 All-ACC selections.
The 2012 cross country season was one of the program’s most successful, as Thomas led the men’s team to its first ACC team title since Tech joined the conference in 2004. Led by Mulherin, who captured the program’s first individual ACC championship, the squad earned the men’s program’s first trip to the NCAA Championships since 1987. Mulherin went on to earn his second All-America honor in consecutive years and became the first Hokie on the men’s side to achieve that honor.
The 2012 track season saw Thomas coach a distance crew that broke school track records in the outdoor 800-meter race, the 1,500, the 3,000 steeplechase, the indoor 1,000, the mile, the DMR, the 3,000 and the 5,000 as well as the outdoor 4x800, the 4x1,500 and the distance medley relays. That season alone, Thomas’ distance unit had three individual ACC champions. Mulherin won his third ACC outdoor title in the 5,000 – the only athlete to do so in the history of the ACC. He also set the outdoor school record in the 5,000 at 13:41.06. Ryan Witt garnered the 800 title during the ACC’s indoor meet, and Jason Cusack won the 3,000 steeplechase at the ACC outdoor championships. Michael Hammond earned All-America honors in the outdoor 1,500 by finishing fourth, and he also garnered All-ACC accolades in the outdoor 1,500-meter run as the runner-up. Sammy Dow broke the school-record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and qualified for the NCAA Championships.
In 2008, Tasmin Fanning placed ninth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5000-meter event, setting a new school record of 15:37.73. Thomas also guided Fanning to two All-America performances at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She placed third in 2008, the highest finish by a Tech athlete, and 12th out of 255 runners in 2007. Thomas led the women’s squad to the best season in program history in 2006, with the Hokies posting an 18th-place finish in their first appearance at the NCAA Championships. The Hokie women reached the national meet following a third-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional behind an unprecedented five all-region performers.
Thomas served as the men’s and women’s distance coach at the University of Georgia before arriving in Blacksburg. 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 1995-1999.
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 coaching cross country at Blacksburg High School (1994-95).
Thomas, his wife, Ann McGranahan, and their children, Reilly and Seamus, reside in Blacksburg.