PASADENA, Calif. – Ben Raphelson has been named Caltech's new head coach of cross country and track and field. Raphelson joins the Beavers after his second coaching stint at his alma mater, Grinnell College, where he returned in 2013 to assist with the men's and women's cross country and track and field teams. With cross country season already under way, Raphelson is ready to begin work immediately. He inherits a number of athletes, as he'll be coaching both the men's and women's teams.
"I'm very excited for this opportunity to work with students who are motivated in both the classroom and on the field," said Raphelson. "I believe both programs can develop into conference powers."
"Ben Raphelson is clearly a fine, young coach who is eager to build this program in the spirit of excellence," said director of athletics Betsy Mitchell. "He was a high end scholar athlete and chose a coaching career that has taken him to first class institutions."
This past year at Grinnell, his athletes earned 12 individual/relay conference championships, including a 1-2-3 sweep in the 10,000m and 5,000m at the outdoor conference championships. One of his charges, Sarah Burnell, earned third and fourth place finishes at the NCAA championships in the mile and 1500, respectively. Raphelson, who majored in history at Grinnell, was previously a coach for the Pioneers track programs in 2008 and 2009. He then enrolled in the exercise and sport studies (ESS) graduate program at Smith College where, for two years, he served as graduate assistant coach with the women's cross country and track and field programs. In his second year in Massachusetts, he was named interim co-head cross country coach while the head coach was on maternity leave.
With his master's degree in hand, Raphelson accepted a position at Williams College where he served as assistant cross country coach and later led the men's and women's distance/middle-distance programs while the head distance coach was on sabbatical. The women's cross country team at Williams went on to place third at the NCAA championships, led by the individual national champion. The men's teams earned NESCAC and NCAA Regional championships and placed sixth at the NCAA championships. During the track season, Raphelson guided dozens of athletes to all-conference and all-regional honors and coached athletes to four NCAA championship appearances. In 2012-13, Raphelson served as the head cross country coach at Huntingdon College in Alabama.
"Coaching at other small academically competitive institutions taught me how to balance training demands with academic responsibilities, all the while achieving at a high level," Raphelson stated.
Raphelson has USA Track and Field Level I and Level II (endurance) certification. He is also a NSCA CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach.
"Ben understands what our students are attempting here," added Mitchell. "His rise is due in part to him being a lifelong learner and being passionate about sports. He's constantly thinking about new training techniques."
"Betsy painted an inspiring picture," said Raphelson. "She was instrumental in my decision to come to Pasadena, and I'm excited to work with everyone here."
The next cross country meet is Saturday, September 13 at the UC Riverside Invitational. The track and field season begins in the winter.