Althea Thomas - Men's Cross Country - Vanderbilt University Athletics

Althea Thomas

Director of Cross Country • Track and Field

Coaching Highlights
Track & Field
1- U.S. Olympian at Georgia
1- Pan American U20 champion at Vanderbilt
1- USATF U20 champion at Vanderbilt
2- World Athletic Championships qualifications
2- Individual NCAA titles at Georgia
2- Individual SEC titles at Vanderbilt
2- SEC Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year selections at Georgia
2- USTFCCCA South Region Athlete of the Year selections at Georgia
3- Pan American U20 Championships qualifications
3- Individual East Region titles
5- College Sports Communicators Academic All-District selections
8- All-SEC selections at Vanderbilt
19- USTFCCCA All-Academic selections
26- School records at Vanderbilt
38- All-America selections
2021 USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year

Cross Country
1- All-SEC Freshman team selection
4- All-South Region selections
4- College Sports Communicators Academic All-District selections

Althea Thomas took over as Vanderbilt’s director of cross country and track and field on July 8, 2021. She brings 18 years of coaching experience to Nashville, including three stops in the SEC with the last four seasons spent at Georgia. Most recently, Thomas served as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Bulldogs where she led the men and women’s sprints, hurdles and relays.

“Coach Thomas is highly respected in the track and field community with a deep commitment to developing student-athletes athletically and academically,” vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director Candice Lee said. “Her integrity, coaching pedigree and experience in the SEC made her the ideal candidate to lead our cross country and track and field programs.”

Achievements at Vanderbilt – Director of Cross Country and Track & Field (2021–present)
During the 2023 season, Thomas led the Vanderbilt women’s track and field team to a 20th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, its best since 1997. Five student-athletes earned All-America honors, including Beatrice Juskeviciute, who was the runner-up in the heptathlon, and also finished sixth in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

12 Commodores qualified for the 2023 NCAA East Regional in 10 events, and six advanced to the NCAA final in seven events. Veronica Fraley won the shot put and discus at the regional meet to punch her ticket to nationals. Later in the season, Fraley placed fourth in the discus at the USATF Outdoor Championships and earned a spot on Team USA for the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

At the SEC Outdoor Championships, Thomas boasted two individual champions, Fraley in the discus and Juskeviciute in the heptathlon, as well as six additional scoring performances across three disciplines. At the indoor conference championships, Vanderbilt earned a silver medal in the pentathlon and bronze medals in the shot put, 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay. The team recorded three other scoring performances to finish ninth with 33 points.

In 2023, Vanderbilt track and field reset 14 school records and added 60 marks to the program’s all-time performer lists.

Three U20 student-athletes, USATF U20 hammer throw champion Giavonna Meeks, 400-meter hurdles runner-up Allyria McBride and 1,500 meters medalist Audrey Allman, earned spots on Team USA for the 2023 Pan Am U20 Championships. At the Pan American meet, Meeks won the hammer throw title and McBride was a bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles.

In her first season with the Commodores, Thomas coached student-athletes to six indoor and outdoor All-America selections. Taiya Shelby broke the indoor 400-meter school record and had the No. 2 performance in program history in the outdoor 400 meters—earning second-team All-America recognition in both events. Three-time All-American Divine Oladipo earned first-team honors in the outdoor shot put and was a second-team selection in the discus and indoor shot put. Grace Jensen’s performance in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earned her the title of second-team All-American.

At the 2022 SEC Outdoor Championships, Thomas’ Commodores notched seven scoring performances. During the SEC Indoor Championships, Oladipo earned a silver medal in the shot put and second-team All-SEC honors. Shelby and Jensen qualified for finals in the 400 meters and the mile, respectively.

Prior to Vanderbilt
At Georgia – Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator (2017–21)
During her time in Athens, Thomas was a part of two NCAA Championship-winning teams and guided student-athletes to achieving 39 top-10 marks in the school record book, including 11 program records and one NCAA meet record.

In 2018, her first full season with the Bulldogs, Thomas coached Lynna Irby, who scored a combined 28 points at nationals, as the women’s team won its first NCAA indoor title and was the runner-up to the outdoor team crown. Irby was named the indoor and outdoor USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, winning the NCAA title in the 400 meters and breaking the NCAA meet record with the No. 2 time in collegiate history, 49.80 seconds. Just 30 minutes after setting a new 400-meter meet record, she returned to the track to place third in the 200 meters.

Elijah Godwin, the 2019 SEC Men’s Co-Freshman Runner of the Year, recorded the No. 7 mark in Georgia history in the 200 meters and the No. 9 mark in program history in the 400 meters with Thomas’ guidance. In the same year, Michael Nicholls broke the school record in the 60-meter hurdles and earned All-America honors in the 60 and 110-meter hurdles. At the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, the women’s 4×400-meter relay earned All-America recognition, and Irby was named an All-American in the 400 meters.

In 2020, Thomas coached her second-consecutive SEC Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year, Matthew Boling, who broke the school’s 11-year-old 200 meter school record and recorded the No. 4 time in the NCAA that year. At that year’s SEC Indoor Championships, Thomas’ sprinters scored a combined 24 points, and Amber Tanner captured the program’s first 800 meter conference title since 1995. On the men’s side, Godwin finished third in the 400 meters at the conference championships and advanced to the NCAA finals with the seventh-ranked 400-meter time that year. His time was also No. 3 all-time in program history.

In 2021, Boling won the NCAA title in the indoor 200 meters and was a first-team All-America selection in the indoor 200 meters and the outdoor 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100-meter relay. In the outdoor 800 meters, Tanner won the SEC event title and earned All-America honors. Three-time All-American Godwin earned a silver medal in the mixed relay at the 2020 Olympics. The Georgia men finished second in the 4×100-meter relay and fourth in the indoor 4×400-meter relay at the NCAA Championships.

At Clemson – Assistant Coach (2013–17)
Before arriving at Georgia, Thomas spent four years as an assistant coach at Clemson. There, she coached four ACC relay champions, three ACC individual champions, two All-America relay teams and a USA Junior champion, along with 22 All-ACC student-athletes. The Tigers swept the women’s ACC indoor and outdoor team titles in 2015.

At Purdue – Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator (2012–13)
While at Purdue in 2012–13, Thomas coached Boilermakers to setting three school records, earning one Big Ten individual title and one second-team All-America selection, and she developed 10 student-athletes to nine all-time top-5 marks in program history.

At Kentucky – Assistant Coach (2010–12)
Thomas was an assistant coach at Kentucky from 2010 to 2012 after spending two years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. While in Lexington, she tutored two All-Americans, including Olympian Jenna Martin.

The beginnings of a coaching career
Thomas began her coaching career as a volunteer student assistant at LSU in 2003–04 and then served as assistant coach at Huffman High School (Alabama) from 2004 to 2006 and head coach for the Alabama Striders Track Club from 2005 to 2010.

As a student-athlete, Thomas was a two-time NCAA outdoor team champion (2000, 2003) at LSU. She was a provisional NCAA qualifier in the 800 meters and a national qualifier in the 400-meter hurdles in 2003.

Thomas, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, earned her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Louisiana State University in 2004.

Coaching Experience
Director of Cross Country and Track & Field, Vanderbilt (2021–present)
Associate Head Coach & Recruiting Coordinator, Georgia (2017–21)
Assistant Coach, Clemson (2013–17)
Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator, Purdue (2012–13)
Assistant Coach, Kentucky (2010–12)
Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator, UAB (2008–10)
Head Coach, Alabama Striders Track Club (2005–10)
Assistant Coach, Huffman High School (2004–06)
Volunteer Student Assistant, LSU (2003–04)