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One of the collegiate track and field’s most high-profile jobs is no longer vacant.
On Monday, the University of Oregon named Ben Thomas the school’s cross country and distance coach. The move fills a void left by Andy and Mauricia Powell who coached Oregon’s men’s and women’s programs for 13 years before leaving for the University of Washington in June.
Thomas coached both the men’s and women’s cross country teams and the distance runners at Virginia Tech since 2001.
"I am excited to get started in helping the Men and Women of Oregon reach their considerable potential," Thomas said. "I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to help launch a new era at Hayward Field and add to the championship legacy of Oregon track and field and cross country."
In 2017, he was named the men’s assistant coach of the year by the USTFCCCA. The Hokies have shown particular strength in the middle-distance events where in recent years they have produced All-Americans in Rachel Pocratsky, Vincent Ciatti, Drew Piazza, Hanna Green, Neil Gourley and Patrick Joseph.
The Hokies men’s team won the distance medley relay at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time in school history and the school qualified three men to the final of the mile. Outdoors, Ciatti and Pocratsky finished second and fifth in the 1500m at June’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.
At Oregon, Thomas inherits one of the highest-profile jobs in the sport at a unique moment. The Powells have been a bedrock of the Ducks for over a decade and the program will be without the use of their storied home stadium for the next two seasons.
During the Powell era, the Duck men and women won 19 national championships between cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field.
The Ducks are scheduled to bring in high-profile recruits, Brodey Hasty and Josh Hoey this fall and return four of the top five members of a women’s cross country team that placed fourth at the NCAA Championships. Two of those members, Jessica Hull and Lilli Burdon, had breakthrough track seasons. Hull won the 1500m title outdoors and Burdon placed third in the 5000m.