CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Jesse Norman, a two-time graduate of Western Carolina University, has been named the school’s head men’s and women’s cross country/track & field coach, Director of Athletics Randy Eaton announced Monday. Norman will supervise both programs and work directly with the distance and jumps groups during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“First, I would like to thank the members of the athletic department senior staff, led by Rick Fulton as Chair, for leading the search during my time away from campus while serving on the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision selection committee,” Eaton stated. “While we spoke with, and interviewed, several individuals, Coach Norman’s experience within our program, both as a student-athlete and a coach, along with his successful tenure as head coach at UNC Asheville, made him a natural choice to take the reins of our track & field programs. I look forward to working with Jesse as he leads our track & field student-athletes to even greater levels of success than they have enjoyed over the past many years. All of us within athletics welcome the addition of Coach Norman, along with his wife, Melanie, and their two children, Eliza and Oliver, to the Catamount Family.”
Norman returns to Cullowhee after spending the previous 12 seasons as head coach of the UNC Asheville cross country and track and field programs. Under Norman’s guidance, the Bulldogs had four student-athletes earn All-American honors along with eight NCAA East Preliminary qualifiers, 18 Big South Conference champions and 57 Big South All-Conference honorees. Norman is a two-time Big South Coach of the Year, most recently claiming the 2018 Big South Women’s Track Coach of the Year.
In addition to being successful in competition, Norman’s student-athletes have excelled in the classroom as he has had five scholar-athletes of the year and numerous USTFCCCA All-Academic awards.
“I’m super excited to be back at Western Carolina University,” Norman said. “It’s an incredible feeling being back at my alma mater as the head coach for track and field. I feel this is going to be a great opportunity for me to continue making an impact on student-athletes’ lives. Coming in the middle of the season will be a challenge but I feel that UNC Asheville did a great job of preparing me for a position like this. I’d like to thank Janet Cone from UNC Asheville for taking a chance on giving me my first head coaching position and to Randy Eaton for believing that I can keep the winning tradition going here at Western Carolina as the new head coach.”
Norman began his coaching career at Western Carolina under longtime Catamount head coach Danny Williamson and was part of two Southern Conference championships and coached several all-conference performers before taking the head coaching job at UNC Asheville.
One of the most accomplished runners in Western Carolina distance program history, Norman is the only Catamount to ever win a Southern Conference individual cross country championship, as he took first-place honors and was named Runner of the Year in 2001. At the conclusion of the 2018 cross country season, Norman continues to hold the seventh-fastest time in both the 8K and 10K events. During his track career, Norman earned all-conference honors in the 10,000-meter run thanks to a third-place finish in 2000 and recorded seven top-eight finishes at the SoCon Indoor and Outdoor Championships during his career.
Western Carolina is scheduled to open the 2019 indoor season on Jan. 25-26 at the VMI Team Challenge.