Southern Oregon head cross country and track and field coach Brent Ericksen has been hired to lead the same programs at NCAA Division I Morehead State and will be replaced on an interim bases by SOU alum Grier Gatlin, SOU athletic director Matt Sayre announced Monday.
Ericksen's departure comes less than a month before the Raiders are scheduled to open their season by hosting the Raider Invitational on Sept. 17.
"Brent did an incredible job building our cross country and track and field programs to the elite level in the NAIA," Sayre said. "We appreciate all that he has done for our programs and SOU and wish him the best at Morehead State."
Ericksen was named SOU's head coach in 2008 and quickly turned the men's cross country team into a national title contender. During his three years at SOU, the Raiders won three Cascade Conference men's cross country titles, the 2010 NAIA men's cross country national championship and the 2010 NAIA combined national championship.
Also, the men's track and field team placed second at the 2011 Cascade Conference championships, and Ericksen was named the NAIA men's cross country coach of the year last fall.
"I had the time of my life building the SOU cross country and track programs over the last three years," Ericksen said. "These kids are second to none and winning the men's national championship and the combined team national championship is something I will always cherish. SOU and these teams will always have a special place in my heart."
Gatlin is no stranger to SOU athletics, competing for the Raiders in cross country and track and also serving as both a head coach and assistant coach for the Raiders.
"We're confident in Grier's ability to perpetuate the success of our current program," Sayre said. "He has a tremendous work ethic, he knows our university and program, and he knows the Cascade Conference. He'll continue the training program this year that has made our cross country team elite and work to bolster the track and field program with solid recruiting and an eye toward more dual-sport athletes."
From 1999 through '05, Gatlin served as the head cross country coach for the Raiders and assistant track and field coach.
In cross country, Gatlin led the SOU men to back-to-back Cascade Conference titles in 2004 and 2005. The 2004 squad won the NAIA regional championship and placed 12th at the NAIA national championships and the 2005 squad finished 10th at the national meet.
In 2001, Gatlin took over the SOU women's track and field program on an interim basis and led the team to a cascade conference championship. That year's team had 10 conference champions and four All-Americans.
"This is an amazing opportunity to step into a program that has been so successful over the last couple years," Gatlin said. "It's also great to come back to the school where I competed and also got my coaching feet wet."
At SOU, Gatlin was a three-time all-conference performer.
After competing for SOU, Gatlin served as the co-head cross country and track and field coach at NCAA Division III Pacific during the 2006 and 2007 seasons and was the head cross country coach at Oregon Tech last year.
SOU will conduct a national search to find Ericksen's permanent replacement in the spring of 2012.
Joining Gatlin on the staff will be current assistant Kyle Hansen, longtime distance assistant Bob Julian and Raider All-American David Laney.
HOLGEN, TEAM HONORED — Following Southern Oregon's upset of top-ranked Fresno Pacific Friday, the Raiders' Sarah Holgen was named Cascade Conference hitter of the week, and she and her teammates were named the team of the week.
Holgen, a senior outside hitter, Holgen had 16 kills and 11 digs.
Southern Oregon defeated four-time defending national champion Fresno Pacific 3-1 as part of the Paul Elliott Invitational in Ashland.
RAIDERS HOME TODAY — The Southern Oregon women opens their season today, when the Raiders host Simpson Univeristy in a nonconference match at noon at University Field.
The Raiders return all but two starters from the 2010 squad, which went 12-5-2 overall and 6-2-1 in the Cascade Conference, setting a program record for wins.
Top returnees include junior forward Stephanie Carr (10 goals, one assist) and senior goalkeeper Jessica Kuehlwein (0.79 goals-against average).