WVUSports.com

Sean Cleary

Sean Cleary

Head Coach

Personal
Hometown Georgetown, Ontario
College West Virginia, 1992 (Bachelor's)
Family wife, Heather
son, Patrick
Cross Country Coaching History
1993-00 West Virginia - Graduate Assistant
2001-04 West Virginia - Assistant Coach
2005-present West Virginia - Head Coach
Track & Field Coaching History
1993-01 West Virginia - Graduate Assistant
2001-07 West Virginia - Assistant Coach
2007-present West Virginia - Head Coach
Cross Country Coaching Record
Year School Postseason
2005 West Virginia NCAA Championship
2006 West Virginia  
2007 West Virginia NCAA Championship (9th)
2008 West Virginia NCAA Championship (4th)
2009 West Virginia NCAA Championship (6th)
2010 West Virginia NCAA Championship
2011 West Virginia NCAA Championship (8th)
2012 West Virginia NCAA Championship
2013 West Virginia NCAA Championship (24th)
2014 West Virginia
NCAA Championship (8th)
2015 West Virginia  
Track & Field Coaching Record
Year School Postseason
2007-08 West Virginia NCAA Indoor Championships (29th)
2008-09 West Virginia NCAA Outdoor Championships (47th)
2009-10 West Virginia NCAA Indoor Championships (10th)
NCAA Outdoor Championships (16th)
2010-11 West Virginia NCAA Indoor Championships (18th)
NCAA Outdoor Championships (20th)
2011-12 West Virginia NCAA Outdoor Championships (34th)
2012-13 West Virginia NCAA Indoor Championships (51st)
2013-14 West Virginia NCAA Outdoor Championships (59th)
2014-15 West Virginia NCAA Outdoor Championships


Sean Cleary, one of the sport’s most talented coaches, enters his 11th season at the helm of the West Virginia University cross country and track and field teams, and he has been associated with both programs for more than 20 years. With his expertise in mentoring, training, conditioning and recruiting distance runners, the Georgetown, Ontario, native, has built West Virginia’s cross country and track and field programs into national powerhouses, producing multiple All-America honors and numerous all-conference runners.
 
The 2015-16 season saw many accomplishments academically and athletically. In cross country, Cleary led the Mountaineers to a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championship, attained two All-Mid-Atlantic Region honorees, coached an individual qualifier to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, had one Academic All-American First team runner, two Academic All-District Team honorees, 12 who earned USTFCCCA All-Academic and 12 who were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Cross Country First Team.
 
During the track and field season, eight Mountaineers qualified for the NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds, eight earned All-Big 12 honors at the outdoor championship and seven indoor honorees and 11 earned Academic All-Big 12 Track and Field honors.
 
At the 2015 Big 12 Cross Country Championship, three sophomores posted top-22 finishes on the 6k course in Stillwater, Oklahoma - sophomores Maggie Drazba in 19th, Millie Paladino in 21st and Brynn Harshbarger in 22nd. West Virginia placed fifth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, highlighted by two all-region honors from Millie Paladino and Savana Plombon. Paladino was the lone Mountaineer to qualify for the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the second straight championships for Paladino.
 
On the academic side, senior Kelly Williams was named to the 2016 Track and Field/Cross Country Academic All-America First Team selected by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), for the second consecutive year while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Williams also was named the 2016 Big 12 Women’s Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Additionally, junior Amy Cashin and Williams were named to Academic All-District First Team.
 
With the guidance of Cleary, the 2014-15 season demonstrated true athleticism and dedication from young athletes.
 
Seven Mountaineers qualified for the 2015 NCAA East Region Preliminary Championships. After racing in the preliminary championships, Kaitlyn Gillespie advanced to the NCAA National Track and Field Championships after placing fifth in the 10,000-meter run. To cap her collegiate career Cleary guided her to a ninth-place finish with a personal best and the second-fastest time in program history of 33:44.08 to receive All-America status.
 
At the 2015 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Gillespie became the Big 12 champion in the 10,000 meters and ran a career best of 34:10.60, the second fastest in program history. Cleary led four Mountaineer freshman to top-five finishes as they earned spots on the podium.
 
In the fall, he led the Mountaineer cross country team to a second-place finish at the 2014 Big 12 Championship for the second straight year. Jillian Forsey finished 12th, earning Big 12 All-Conference honors, along with Kaitlyn Gillespie and Maggie Drazba. The Mountaineers appeared in their ninth NCAA Cross Country Championship, sixth under Cleary.
 
Cleary oversaw a top-eight finish, two All-Americans and an Elite 89 Award winner, and the team earned its fifth NCAA top-10 finish since 2007. Kaitlyn Gillespie was honored as an All-American in her final race as a Mountaineer, finishing 26th, along with Jillian Forsey as she finished 14th overall. Kelly Williams earned the Elite 89 Award for having the highest cumulative grade point average out of all participants at the NCAA Championship.
 
In the 2013-14 track and field season, Cleary coached two All-Americans in Jordan Hamric and Kelly Williams. Williams earned her accolade during the indoor season, while Hamric did so at the Outdoor Championships. As per usual, the Mountaineers excelled in the classroom under the direction of Cleary. A total of 20 student-athletes were named to the 2013 Academic All-Big 12 Track & Field First and Second Teams and four freshmen earned Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team.
 
Cleary was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) President for Division I Cross Country, prior to the start of the 2013 cross country season. He is currently finishing up his last couple of weeks as president and will have been with the association for a total of two years.
 
Cleary guided the Mountaineers to their fifth NCAA appearance in seven seasons under his direction in 2013. West Virginia posted a second-place result at the Big 12 Cross Country Championship, while senior Sarah Martinelli went on to claim All-Big 12 and All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors.
 
West Virginia entered into a more highly competitive conference as it competed in the Big 12 for the first time in 2012. Cleary used the season to build onto his framework of confidence and winning at a higher level. Sarah-Anne Brault returned from training for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London for her final season as a Mountaineer by running in her fourth consecutive NCAA Cross Country Championship. On the way, Brault garnered all-conference honors for the second time in her career, all-region honors for the third time and finished her career by becoming the 13th runner in program history to individually qualify for the NCAA Championship.  
 
The 2011-12 Mountaineer track and field squad sent Chelsea Carrier-Eades and Jessica O’Connell to the NCAA Championships where both earned All-America honors. In addition, 10 athletes qualified for the NCAA East Regional and 18 were sent to the Big East Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Maintaining a presence in the league scene, WVU placed fifth at the conference championships in which 10 athletes scored points to earn All-Big East honors. An expert spokesman of athletics and academics, Cleary has also set up a training regimen that allowed four athletes to earn Academic All-America accolades.
 
In cross country in 2011, the Mountaineers finished No. 8 in the country at the NCAA Cross Country Championship – their fourth top-10 national finish in five years. The team finished in fourth place at the Big East Championship and followed it with a third-place mark at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Cleary then led his team to its eighth-place finish at nationals where Kate Harrison and Kaitlyn Gillespie became All-Americans, with Harrison finishing in eighth place, an all-time WVU best individual finish for the event.
 
In 2010-111, the Mountaineers earned their fourth consecutive top-20 finish in indoor and outdoor track, a year in which 13 All-American performances were turned in by eight athletes, including four from the eight-time All-American Carrier-Eades. At the conference level, eight WVU athletes were crowned Big East champions and Cleary and his staff were given the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year award. Cleary also was one of eight finalists for the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year award.
 
In 2010, Cleary sent Gillespie and Brault to the NCAA Championship, where Gillespie became Cleary’s sixth All-American with a 34th-place finish in 20:46 and Brault arrived in 71st place overall. During indoor track season, three athletes were named All-Americans and all seven athletes who qualified for the outdoor NCAA Championship achieved All-America status. For the achievements, Cleary was named the NCAA’s Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for track and field.
 
The 2009-10 season was equally successful as the team achieved sixth place at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, its third straight top-10 finish, and Clara Grandt, Keri Bland and Marie-Louise Asselin earned All-America status. Asselin and Bland achieved the honor for the third time in their WVU careers, while Grandt earned her first. Ranked in the top 10 all year, the team received its highest-ever ranking as a program at No. 3 midway through the season. Between indoor and outdoor track that year, 11 All-America honors were distributed, while Bland, Grandt and Asselin became the first Mountaineers to achieve the status in three sports in the same year. Overall, 17 All-American honors were given to WVU athletes between cross country, indoor and outdoor track during the year.
 
Carrier-Eades was also named the Mid-Atlantic Field Athlete of the Year after earning two Big East titles and breaking the school record in the pentathlon at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge on Feb. 5. Cleary helped WVU greats Marie-Louise Asselin, Keri Bland and Clara Grandt earn All-America honors in three sports in the same season (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track).
 
In 2010, Cleary sent Gillespie and Brault to the NCAA Championship, where Gillespie became Cleary’s sixth All-American with a 34th-place finish in 20:46 and Brault arrived in 71st place overall. During indoor track season, three athletes were named All-Americans and all seven athletes who qualified for the outdoor NCAA Championship achieved All-America status. For the achievements, Cleary was named the NCAA’s Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for track and field.
 
At the completion of the 2009-10 cross country and track seasons, WVU was recognized as the fifth-best team on the Terry Crawford Program of the Year Award list announced by the United States Track and Field and Cross County Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The award is given annually to the most outstanding NCAA Division I women’s cross country and track and field programs and honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year based on the institution’s finish at the NCAA Division I Championship over three seasons.
 
The 2008-09 track and field team was a testament to his success as it finished the year with four athletes qualifying for national meets and three qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Grandt led the team as she earned her first All-America honor for finishing fourth in the 10,000-meter finals. She was also named Mid-Atlantic Region Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for her efforts throughout the season.
 
In Cleary’s first season as head coach, Cleary saw Asselin and Bland claim Big East indoor titles in the 3,000-meter and 1,000-meter, respectively, while the distance medley relay (DMR) team set a Big East meet record while winning the indoor crown. The DMR went on to place fourth at nationals and Asselin placed seventh in the 3,000-meter to earn All-America honors. He also helped Grandt break a 28-year record in the 10,000-meter at the ECAC Outdoor Championships and saw Carrier-Eades win her first league title in the 100-meter hurdles during her freshman outdoor season. Bland finished the 2008 outdoor season by earning All-America honors in the 1,500-meter to become the first female in WVU history to earn All-America honors in three sports in the same year (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track).
 
Cleary led his 2008 nationally ranked cross country squad to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championship, the highest finish in school history, and guided Asselin and Bland to their second consecutive All-America honors.
 
At the conference level, Asselin became the first individual champion in school history at the Big East Championship, where the team finished second. Asselin, Grandt and Bland were named to the All-Big East team. For his accomplishments in leading the Mountaineers, Cleary was named the 2008 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for the third time in his career and for the second-consecutive season by the USTFCCCA.
 
In addition to his teams’ accomplishments in 2008 and 2009, perhaps the most significant achievement was in the classroom as the cross country and track teams received recognition by the NCAA for their latest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. Both teams posted multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports.
 
In 2008, the team had its best-ever finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, arriving in fourth after being ranked No. 5 most of the year. WVU won its second NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region championship and Cleary was named Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year. Asselin became the first in school history to win an individual Big East title and the team finished in second.
 
Cleary’s first season in charge of cross country was a record-setting one as well, as the Georgetown, Ontario, native guided the 2007 cross country team to its first Big East Championship in school history. Cleary had a then-school record three All-Big East performers in 2007 and brought WVU back into the top 25 of the national polls for the first time since 2004.
 
In Cleary’s first season as head coach in 2007, he was named Big East Coach of the Year. The team also became Big East champions for the first time in school history and a then-school record. Three runners were named All-Big East as the team entered the top 25 for the first time in three years.
 
For the fourth year in a row, the Mountaineers were named an All-Academic Team by the USTFCCCA. The group was ranked 17th in the nation in terms of overall grade point average (GPA) and had the second-highest GPA in the Big East with a 3.61 average.
 
Before taking over as head coach, Cleary served as the distance coach in 2005 and 2006 and was a full-time assistant from 2001-04, serving as the primary coach and trainer for the cross country team during that span. Prior to the 2001 season, Cleary served as a graduate assistant coach for eight seasons at WVU.
 
In 2006, Cleary brought a young team along nicely before season’s end. That squad claimed a sixth-place finish at the 2006 Big East Championship, improving from 12th the year before. Then, perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the 2006 Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship was the finish of Cleary’s group. Despite having more than 60 percent of the roster comprised of freshmen, WVU registered a fourth-place finish at regionals after spending all season ranked between 10th and 12th in the regional polls. Four of WVU’s top five finishers were freshmen.
 
In the 2005 outdoor track season, Cleary coached five NCAA regional qualifiers. In 2005, Jennifer Kemp won the NCAA Regional Championships in the 800-meter, while Jennifer Davis was the 3,000-meter ECAC champion. Megan Metcalfe won the national championship in the 5,000-meter, becoming the third women’s track athlete in school history to win an individual national championship.
           
Cleary previously had been the distance coach in 2005 and 2006 and was a full-time assistant from 2001-04, serving as the primary coach and trainer for the cross country team during that span. Prior to the 2001 season, Cleary served as a graduate assistant coach for eight seasons at WVU. His primary duties included recruiting and coaching the middle distance and long-distance runners
           
From 1998 to 2004, WVU’s distance medley relay team qualified for nationals for seven consecutive years, the second-longest streak in the nation, under Cleary’s watch.
 
Cleary has coached 17 athletes who have competed at the World Track and Field, World Cross Country, World University Games and Pan American Championship.
 
Cleary worked closely with former head coach Martin Pushkin in building the women’s cross country team into a national contender. Cleary was responsible for the recruitment and mentoring of NCAA mile champion Kate Vermeulen as well as All-Americans Rebecca Stallwood, Merissa Sexsmith and Megan Metcalfe.
 
Under his guidance, Cleary’s coaching has produced several men’s All-America runners, including four-time All-American Bob Donker, NCAA cross country All-Americans Wynston Alberts, Mike Dudley and Steve Bohan, two-time NCAA qualifiers Jeff Metcaff and Bohan, NCAA qualifier Ian Collings and 5,000-meter All-American Mark Vilardo.
 
Cleary, who holds a USATF Level I Certification, is the primary recruiter for the cross country squad, attracting the best in-state, out-of-state and international athletes. He also is responsible for scheduling all meets and serves as the director for home meets.
 
He was a member of the Mountaineer team in 1991 and 1992, helping the 1991 squad capture the Atlantic 10 cross country title and earning all-conference honors his last season.
 
Cleary attended Central Oregon Community College, where he helped lead the team to the National Junior College Athletic Association title. He received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from WVU in 1992. He resides in Morgantown with his wife, Heather. They have one son, Patrick Nolan Cleary, who was born on April 30, 2014.  


Back