WASHINGTON – American University Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. Billy Walker has announced the hiring of Sean Graham as the head coach of AU's cross country and track and field program on Thursday.
Graham, a 2011 graduate of American's Kogod School of Business, served as an assistant coach at AU from 2009 to 2011, and again from 2012 to 2013, before spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky.
"I am tremendously excited to announce Sean as our new cross country and track head coach," Walker said. "Everyone he talked to during his visit to campus was thoroughly impressed with his sense of teamwork and his strong desire to be back at American University, where he earned his MBA.
"I'm impressed with his vision, focus, temperament and clear understanding of our expectations, and we can't wait for him to get started."
"I could not be more excited to be returning to AU as head coach of this great program," Graham said. "Having started my coaching career with Coach Centrowitz at American, as well as being an alumnus, it is an honor to have been chosen to continue building the great program he created. I am very thankful for the opportunity to join the rest of the coaches and athletics staff under the leadership of Dr. Walker and President Burwell."
Graham brings eight years of Division I coaching experience, including four with Kentucky under head coach Edrick Floreal (2013-17) and three at American (2009-11, 2012-13), as well as a volunteer coaching stint at George Mason under coach Andrew Gerard (2011-12).
He also had a successful track career in his own right, as an All-American performer at William & Mary, where he graduated with his bachelors of business administration in information technology and marketing, before competing post-collegiately with the Nike Farm team in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Nike Oregon Project Elite in Eugene, Ore.
"More importantly, however, is that Sean lives by our department's core values of Integrity, Respect, Accountability, and Excellence, and buys into them completely."
During his tenure at Kentucky, Graham established himself as one of the rising stars in U.S. distance coaching, helping mentor some of the most-decorated male middle distance and distance runners in the program's recent history. Included among the many accolades earned by Graham's student-athletes were two podium finishes on the international stage with an 800-meter gold medalist at the 2014 NACAC Outdoor Championships and the 800m silver medal at the 2014 Canadian national championship, along with a 2016 World Junior Championships qualifier in the 1500m run.
On the collegiate level, Graham guided two NCAA Cross Country Championship qualifiers, two NCAA Indoor All-Americans, two NCAA Outdoor All-Americans, six Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles, eight All-SEC finishers and five Kentucky school records.
Graham spent three seasons as an assistant coach at American (2009-2011, 2012-13) while pursuing his master of business administration degree from AU's Kogod School of Business. During that time, he helped guide two NCAA Cross Country Championship qualifiers in Octavia Rinehardt (2010) and Mark Allen (2012).
On the track, Graham helped coach Erin Koch and Rinehardt to NCAA Preliminary Round qualifications in 2011, followed by Allen and Mark Leininger in 2013. AU also saw six Patriot League champions during his tenure, including four title-winning performances from school record-holder Octavia Rinehardt.
"This program has had a great history of producing top-caliber athletes in a unique small-school setting," Graham said. "American has ideal training venues in and around campus and D.C., and the young student-athletes on both the men's and women's teams are in a great position to take big steps forward.
"With the help of the great staff already on board, we will continue to focus on developing the men's and women's middle distance and distance athletes, and will work tirelessly on achieving Patriot League and national-level success on both the cross country course and track."
THE SEAN GRAHAM FILE - COACHING HIGHLIGHTS
While at Kentucky...
- 2016 Junior World Championships qualifier – Kendall Muhammad, U.S. (1500m)
- 2014 Gold Medalist at the NACAC Outdoor Championships – Matt Hillenbrand, U.S. (1500m)
- Two NCAA Cross Country Championships qualifications - Jacob Thomson (2015-16)
- One USTFCCCA Indoor First Team All-American - Keffri Neal (mile, eighth)
- One USTFCCCA Indoor Second Team All-American - Matt Hillenbrand (mile, tenth)
- Two USTFCCCA Outdoor First Team All-Americans - Keffri Neal (800m, third) and Jacob Thomson (10k, sixth)
- One USTFCCCA Outdoor All-American Honorable Mention - Jacob Thomson (10k, 22nd)
- 17 NCAA Championships East Preliminary Round qualifiers
- Seven SEC individual titles (three indoor, four outdoor)
- Eight All-SEC finishers (three cross country, three indoor, two outdoor)
- Helped coach Matt Hillenbrand to the prestigious Cliff Harper Trophy during the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, awarded to the highest individual point scorer in the meet - Hillenbrand won titles in both the mile and 3000m runs
- Five Kentucky school records (two indoor, three outdoor)
- Three Kentucky freshman school records (two indoor, one outdoor)
- 17 Kentucky All-Time Top Ten performers (eight indoor, nine outdoor)
While at American...
- Two NCAA Cross Country Championships qualifiers - Octavia Rinehardt (2010), Mark Allen (2012)
- Two NCAA Championships East Preliminary Round qualifiers - Erin Koch (2011), Octavia Rinehardt (2011)
- Five NCAA Mid-Atlantic All-Region finishers - Octavia Rinehardt (2010), Colin Eustis (2010), Mark Allen (2012), John Pope (2012), Nick Regan (2012)
- Seven Patriot League Champions (three indoor, four outdoor)
- 13 All-Patriot League finishers in cross country
- 19 All-Patriot League finishers (seven indoor, 12 outdoor)
THE SEAN GRAHAM FILE - COMPETITIVE CAREER
While at William & Mary...
- 2017 Inductee into the William & Mary Athletics Hall of Fame
- 2003 USTFCCCA Outdoor First Team All-American in the 5000m run (sixth)
- 2002 CAA Cross Country Athlete of the Year
- 2002 NCAA Southeast Cross Country Regional champion
- 2002 NCAA Southeast Cross Country Regional Athlete of the Year
- School Records in the indoor DMR and outdoor 4xMile
- 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 5000m and 1500m runs
- 2007 USATF Outdoor Championships in the 5000m run (eighth)
- 2007 USATF Indoor Championships in the 3000m run (third)
- 2006 USATF Outdoor Championships in the 5000m run (fifth)
- Represented the U.S. at the U.S. vs Great Britain vs China Meet, placing fourth in the 3000m run
- 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 5000m run (11th)
- PR's: 3:40.30 (1500m), 3:58.40 (mile), 7:46.50 (3000m), 13:23.27 (5000m)
For the latest on AU Cross Country and Track & Field, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_TrackXC.