Thomas Named Nation’s Top Assistant Coach


EUGENE, Ore. – For the second time in his career, UO track and field associate head coach Ben Thomas has been named the USTFCCCA National Men’s (Team) Assistant Coach of the Year as announced Friday morning.

In his second season with the Ducks, Thomas was previously honored as the National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2017 at Virginia Tech. Coupled with consecutive regional accolades at Oregon, Thomas is also an eight-time regional assistant coach of the year.

Since the inception of the award in 2008, Thomas becomes the fourth UO coach to win top assistant accolades during the indoor season, and first since fellow associate head coach Curtis Taylor was honored in 2017 for his work with the women’s sprints group.

Thomas was one of three national finalists along with Travis Geopfert (Tennessee) and Todd Lane (LSU). Over two rounds of voting, the member coaches of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) picked the award.

The Men of Oregon’s distance crew earned six individual qualifiers for the NCAA Indoor Championships including three entries in the mile with Charlie Hunter, James West and Cole Hocker. West, the West Region Track Athlete of the Year, also qualified in the 3,000 meters along with Cooper Teare while Luis Peralta and Jackson Mestler secured qualifying spots in the 800 and 5,000 meters, respectively.

During the 2020 indoor campaign, Thomas’ athletes totaled eight top-10 Oregon marks along with collegiate records in the 1,500 meters (West – 3:36.93) and the distance-medley relay. The quartet of West, Hunter, Teare and Jacob Miller teamed up for a time of 9:24.52 at the Razorback Invitational, breaking the previous NCAA mark of 9:25.97 set by Texas in 2008.

Oregon Top-10 Times in 2020

800 Meters

  1. Luis Peralta – 1:48.10
  2. James West – 1:48.67


  1. Charlie Hunter – 3:55.41
  2. Cooper Teare – 3:55.50
  3. James West – 3:57.43

3,000 Meters
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  1. Cooper Teare – 7:46.45
  2. James West – 7:47.10

5,000 Meters

  1. Jackson Mestler – 13:36.62

Thomas coached four UO runners to sub-4:00 performances in the mile this year with Hunter (3:55.41), Teare (3:55.50), West (3:57.43) and Hocker (3:58.20). With their efforts at the BU Last Chance, Hunter and Teare became the 13th– and 14th-fastest performers in collegiate history.

Sub-4:00 PRs Under Thomas

Charlie Hunter – 3:55.41

Cooper Teare – 3:55.50

James West – 3:57.43

Cole Hocker – 3:58.20

Jackson Mestler – 3:59.77 (2019)

Collectively, the Men of Oregon were No. 3 in the rankings ahead of the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships with a total of 11 national qualifiers among eight athletes and one relay. The Women of Oregon checked in at No. 7 in the national rankings and had eight NCAA qualifiers among six athletes and one relay.

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