Nov. 11, 2011
SEATTLE - Washington track and field head coach Greg Metcalf has announced the hiring of T.J. Crater as the new assistant coach in charge of the Husky throwers. A native of East Wenatchee who began his coaching career at Central Washington, Crater returns to his home state after establishing himself as one of the nation's top young coaches over the past three years at Penn State.
Crater, who competed collegiately for the University of Idaho, will immediately step into the position for the upcoming season. He replaces Reedus Thurmond who departed after six seasons. When Coach Metcalf had an opening, he put together "a very short list, and T.J. was at the top of it from the beginning."
"I had interviewed him a few years ago and I was impressed with what he did at Central Washington with limited resources. His athletes just always continued to improve," says Metcalf. "T.J. has ties to the Northwest, and he understands the culture and the history of Washington and has a great appreciation for it. He has had great success at Penn State and I believe he is definitely the right man to lead our throws program."
Over the last three years at Penn State, Crater's athletes combined for 11 All-America honors and five Big Ten Conference titles. He coached three different Nittany Lions to third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships in their respective events, and under his watch, 20 new marks were written into the Penn State Top-10 lists. Crater also began coaching world-class professional shot putter Ryan Whiting, a finalist at the 2011 World Track & Field Championships.
The opportunity to return to his home state and help enhance the local throwing scene was a major appeal for Crater.
"This was obviously somewhat of a surprise, but once the position became available, my wife and I were very excited and going through the process we couldn't wait to make the move," said Crater. "I've known Coach Metcalf for 10 years now dating back to when I was an athlete at Idaho. I can't describe how excited we are to get back to the Northwest and work in a program with a very storied history in the throws and all of the resources and people in place to help build on that tradition. I can't wait to get on campus and build the next set of great Husky throwers."
In his time as an athlete at Idaho and the early years of his coaching career at Central, Crater says he developed a blue collar mentality that he looks forward to practicing at Washington and instilling in his athletes.
"I always want to be able to outwork coaches I'm coaching against," says Crater. "I really pride myself on working with individual athletes, and working on their individual strengths. I have worked at finding diamonds in the rough, and at Penn State being able to recruit top level athletes out of high school. But I try to maintain that blue collar work ethic and try to bring a lot of pride in what we do."
Crater says one of his first steps will be reestablishing UW as the number one place to go for in-state throwers. "Keeping Washington athletes at home is a high priority for me, so I'm excited to get familiar with the talent in the state and make sure we're on their radar."
In 2011, Penn State had two senior shot putters among the nine finalists at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Joe Kovacs took third overall and Blake Eaton was ninth. Earlier in the spring, Eaton had won his second straight Big Ten title, with Kovacs taking second. In 2010 it was Eaton who was third at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the shot put, and at NCAA Indoors in 2010, again it was Kovacs who placed third overall, while Eaton was eighth. Also in 2010, women's javelin thrower Karlee McQuillen took third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and this past spring she won her first Big Ten title.
Prior to Penn State, Crater spent the 2007-08 season at the University of Nevada. That year was highlighted by his work with Inger Appanaitis, who placed 13th in the women's javelin at the 2008 NCAA Championships, the best finish ever by a Nevada thrower, and then went on to place 18th at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Appanaitis also won the WAC javelin title and scored in all four throwing events at conference to finish as the High Point Winner for the championship.
Crater's coaching career got its start at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where he spent four seasons. At Central, Crater was named the 2007 USTFCCCA Division II National Men's Assistant Track and Field Coach of the Year after also winning the West Region honor. Crater coached nine All-Americans at the Division II level and 12 Great Northwest Athletic Conference individual champions.
A four-year letterwinner for the University of Idaho from 1998-2002, Crater was a five-time All-Big West Conference performer, earning the distinction three times in the hammer throw and twice in the shot put. Crater also hit the NCAA qualifying standard in the weight throw indoors in 2002.
Crater attended Eastmont High in East Wenatchee and received his Bachelor's degree from Idaho with a double major in forest resources administration and forest products timber harvesting.
He and his wife, Shery, welcomed their first daughter, Baylee, in December of 2010.