Two former Stillwater Ponies standouts have made coaching changes in recent weeks.
Sean Graham, a key member of Stillwater state championship cross country and track teams, was named an assistant coaching working with the distance runners in the cross country and track programs under head coach Edrick Floreal at the University of Kentucky. Graham, one of four ex-Ponies who have gone on to run sub four-minute miles, previously coached at American University while working towards his Master of Business Administration degree and as a volunteer assistant coach at George Mason University. Following an All-America career at William and Mary, Graham ran professionally for the Nike Farm team and later the Oregon Track Club Elite.
Graham was a U.S. Olympic Trials finalist in the 5,000 meters in 2004 and qualified to compete in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the 2008 Olympic Trials before missing out because of injury.
“I am truly honored to accept this opportunity at Kentucky and I am very excited to continue to build upon the University’s legacy,” Graham said in UK press release. “Coach Floreal’s vision for our team going forward, along with the remarkable support of the Athletics Department, is something very special and exciting for me to be a part of. I very much look forward to working with this remarkable team of athletes and coaches at UK.”
Floreal was equally pleased to welcome Graham aboard.
“Sean has a clear understanding of what it takes to train and compete at the highest level, having done so himself,” Floreal said. “Most importantly for our team, Sean has coached athletes to that same level. He is a great addition to our state, our team and the Big Blue Nation.”
n Graham’s high school coach Scott Christensen is scheduled to be inducted into the USATF Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame on Sept. 1. Joining Christensen in this year’s class are athletes Adam Steele, Carrie Tollefson and Heather Van Norman and veteran athlete Carter Holmes. The induction will be held at the Maple Grove Community Center in Maple Grove.
Schmidt accepts coaching job at MSU-Moorhead
John Schmidt, a two-time state diving champion at Stillwater before embarking on an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, was named the diving coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead earlier this summer. Schmidt previously served as the diving coach at Concordia-Moorhead for two seasons and is also the diving coach for the Marlins USS Swim Club. He has also coached the divers at Moorhead High School.
“Once you elevate your program to a certain level, like we have with our diving program, you can’t just hire anyone, you have to go after the best person you can find,” Dragons head swimming and diving coach Todd Peters said in a press release. “I’ve actually been trying to hire John for a couple of years but our availability never matched up with his until now. John’s Division I diving experience, along with his many years of coaching high school, club and college diving, make him perfect for this job. Our divers are so excited to work with him and we know John will help continue our quest for national prominence for Dragon swimming and diving.”