In May, The Stride Report was informed by one source that Ben Thomas, the former distance coach at Virginia Tech and Oregon, was being considered for the distance coaching role at the University of Indiana. Three separate sources would later validate that rumor.
However, a separate source noted that a last-minute development swayed Thomas to look at a new position with Virginia Tech as the team's newest head coach.
While not directly confirmed, multiple coaches around the country believe that Thomas will be the "Director in waiting" as speculation swirls that Dave Cianelli, the Hokies' current Director, will eventually retire.
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Ben Thomas is one of the most accomplished distance coaches in the entire NCAA. He has produced one of the most impressive groups of milers at both Virginia Tech and Oregon over the past decade (or even two).
During his time with the Hokies, Thomas guided Vincent Ciattei, Pat Joseph and Neil Gourley to All-American finishes in the same mile finals race at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. That same group of three, along with 400 meter leg Gregory Chiles, also won the DMR national title at that same meet.
Thomas was also responsible for the early development of Peter Seufer who placed 4th at the 2019 NCAA XC Championships as well as Drew Piazza, a transfer from New Hampshire, who ran 1:46.02 for 800 meters while at Virginia Tech (and 1:45 at the USA Championships in the summer of 2017).
Thomas, of course, also found significant success with Virginia Tech's women's middle distance group. During his tenure, he oversaw the development of star-caliber talents such as Hanna Green, Rachel Procratsky, Amanda Smith and Shannon Morton (to name a few).
But in June of 2018, The Stride Report first reported that Ben Thomas was joining the men of Oregon as their newest distance coach following the departure of Andy Powell to the University of Washington.
During his time with the Ducks, Thomas was consistently in the conversation of being the best distance coach in the country.
In the winter of 2021, Oregon was headlined by five men who ran under four minutes in the mile. They were Evan Holland (3:59), Reed Brown (3:56), Charlie Hunter (3:53), Cole Hocker (3:50) and Cooper Teare (3:50). Those latter two men would easily smash the former collegiate mile record of 3:52 held by Edward Cheserek.
That same season, Hocker and Teare would both run 7:46 for 3000 meters. Hocker would win double gold in the mile and the 3000 meters at the indoor national meet while Teare would settle for runner-up in the 3k and help Oregon win the DMR national title.
The Ducks also broke the collegiate record in the DMR that same season (which has since been broken by Oklahoma State). Charle Hunter would go on to win gold over 800 meters. In the spring, Hocker won a national title over 1500 meters (running 3:35) while Teare won gold in the 5000 meters (running 13:12).
In short, Oregon's 2021 winter and spring campaigns proved to be one of the most impressive years of collegiate distance running ever seen by a single team.
However, with Oregon's Director of Track & Field, Robert Johnson, eventually leaving the Ducks in the summer of 2022, Thomas was ultimately ousted with the introduction of Nike Bowerman Track Club coach, Jerry Schumacher.
Since then, Thomas has been working with Oregon Track Club. The revamped version of Nike's pro group based in Eugene, Oregon is currently led by Cole Hocker.