MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon cross country program has a new head coach entering the 2012 season. Ben Raphelson was recently hired to lead the fifth-year program.
"This is an exciting time at Huntingdon," Raphelson said. "There is a lot going on with the athletic department and the college and I can see that Huntingdon has big plans. I'm looking forward to being a part of this program."
Huntingdon athletic director Buzz Phillips said Raphelson's experience at tradition-rich programs will be a strong asset for the Huntingdon program.
"We're glad to have Ben on staff," Phillips said. "He has worked in some very strong programs and brings quality experience to the position. Our cross country program has been successful and we think Ben is the right person to continue building on that success."
The Huntingdon men's and women's cross country teams have combined for five Great South Athletic Conference championships in the first four seasons of competition. The men won GSAC titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and the women won conference titles in 2009 and 2010. Huntingdon has produce 21 All-Conference performers and three runners have combined to win six individual conference titles.
Raphelson wants to continue that success and help Huntingdon take it to the next level.
"The cross country program has had success at the conference level and I want us to continue that success," Raphelson said. "But I also want us to have our goals set on competing beyond the conference level and being successful at the regional and national levels."
Raphelson, who is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and has USATF Level 1 and Level 2 (Endurance) certification, will also serve as an assistant coach for the track and field program. The women's track and field program began competition this past spring and the men's program will begin competition in 2013.
Raphelson replaces Nate Rucker, who led the men's and women's cross country teams during their first four seasons. Rucker was hired as the head women's cross country coach at Upper Iowa University in June.
Raphelson comes to Huntingdon from Williams College, where he was an assistant coach for one season. He helped lead the men's and women's cross country teams to conference titles. The men also won the regional championship and the women were the regional runner-up. Both teams finished in the top six at the NCAA Champiosnhips, with the women placing third and the men sixth. Raphelson worked with two All-Americans at Williams, including one NCAA individual champion.
During the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, he served as interim head distance coach and helped guide 13 athletes to all-region honors during the indoor season. Six Williams athletes finished with Top-25 NCAA marks. The Williams women's team won the Indoor and Outdoor Division III New England Championships.
Before Williams, Raphelson coached for two seasons at Smith College, where he earned his Masters of Science in Exercise and Sports Studies in 2011. He served as an assistant cross country coach in 2009 and an assistant track and field coach in 2010 and 2011. During the 2010 cross country season, Raphelson was the interim co-head coach. That season, Smith finished third in the NEWMAC championships behind two nationally ranked teams.
Raphelson got his start in coaching as an assistant track and field coach at Grinnell College in 2008 and 2009, where he helped his athletes to seven conference championships and one NCAA provisional mark.
Raphelson competed in cross country and track and field at Grinnell and earned his Bachelor of Arts in History in 2008.