Amherst, N.Y. - Director of Athletics Traci Murphy announced a restructure of leadership positions for the Daemen College men's and women's cross country/track and field programs today, highlighted by the formal hiring of Pete Gratien and Judy Arlington. Gratien, who served as a volunteer coach with the Wildcats this past spring, becomes the cross country/track and field head coach. Arlington, who has been on the Daemen coaching staff since 2016, including the past seven months as interim head coach, will transition to a more administrative role as the director of cross country/track and field.
"This restructuring will really allow us to capitalize on a part-time staffing model, and it plays to the strengths of our staff," said Murphy. "I am excited about the future of our cross country/track and field program with both Pete and Judy providing steady leadership in their respective roles."
Gratien (pronounced GRATE-IN) is a former NCAA Division II student-athlete at Le Moyne College who has risen up the coaching ranks in recent years. After earning a degree in chemistry from Le Moyne and working as a process control laboratory manager from 2010-16, Gratien has found his calling as coach. In addition to his volunteer work on the Daemen staff where he worked primarily with the program's sprinters, Gratien has served as the head girls cross country and track and field coach at Williamsville North High School for the last several seasons. Under his tutelage, the teams have seen a steady increase in roster numbers and competitiveness. Both the cross country and outdoor track and field teams posted 4-1 league records during their respective 2018-19 seasons.
A four-year member of Le Moyne's cross country team, Gratien was the Dolphins' top finisher during regional championship meets in 2005, 2006 and 2008. He was also named the 2016 Buffalo News Men's Runner of the Year.
"I would like to thank [Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations and Communications] Mike Miranto and the search committee for their time reviewing applications and interviewing the top candidates," said Murphy. "Our applicant pool was strong and experienced, with many candidates from right here in Western New York. Pete rose to the forefront. We were fortunate to have him on our staff this past spring, and that's given us a first-hand account of his knowledge of the sport, teaching abilities and approach to communicating with student-athletes. Those attributes, along with his connection to area high schools and coaches, really made him the ideal candidate for us."
"I'd like to thank Director of Athletics Traci Murphy for this opportunity to join the Wildcats community," said Gratien. "Together with Coach Arlington, we will strive to build upon the past successes and help Daemen become a perennial conference championship contender in cross country as well as track and field. As a former Division II athlete, I could not be more excited about the opportunity to lead Western New York's Division II team."
Arlington, an accomplished runner in her own right, will continue her coaching responsibilities by assisting with the program's cross country runners, while also focusing on the administrative side of running an intercollegiate athletics program. She will work closely with Gratien on the often overlooked behind-the-scenes tasks like scheduling of practices and competitions, coordinating team travel, securing off-campus facilities for practices, and overseeing the program budget.
"Judy's organizational skills and commitment to the program made this a logical decision for us," said Murphy. "Her passion to coach and administrate still resonates. The network Judy has built in the local running community, along with her knowledge of the East Coast Conference and an understanding of the inner workings of our program and athletics department will put her in a prime position to be a successful director."
Arlington has been involved in running and coaching for a myriad of years. As a collegiate runner, she led the State University of New York at Cortland to two NCAA Division III national championships for cross country, and earned 10 All-America distinctions between cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. She continued to excel after college, earning Buffalo News Female Runner of the Year honors in 2001, as well as inductions to the Western New York Running Hall of Fame and the State University of New York Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
At Daemen, Arlington has worked closely with the program's long-distance runners, resulting in several all-conference performances and two NCAA national championships qualifying efforts. She's also championed and developed the Daemen Summer Track Series, a string of competitions for runners of all ages and abilities.
Prior to her arrival at Daemen, Arlington served as the head men's and women's cross country coach at Medaille College from 2011-15. While there, Arlington helped establish the Mavericks as one of the most consistent programs within the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, and was named the AMCC Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year following the 2011 season.
In addition to her role at Daemen, Arlington works as the transition coordinator for the Lockport City School District.
What People Are Saying About Pete Gratien...
"Over the last several years, I have watched Pete successfully coach many young runners at Williamsville North High School. He has developed a strong skill set in not only the science behind the training, but also the communication needed to be an effective coach. As a competitive runner, he understands what it takes beyond just the time at practice to be a great student-athlete, such as grit and determination. With his knowledge and skills, Pete will be able to help continue to grow the program at Daemen. Pete and Judy Arlington will make an excellent team working together."
- Victoria Mitchell, director of track & field/cross country, University at Buffalo
"Congratulations on the addition of a wonderful coach to your athletics department. I have had the great fortune to know Pete and his family for the past few years, and have witnessed his development as a coach and mentor. Not only is Pete a strong leader who will raise the level of expectations for the cross country and track and field program, but he is also a great addition to the culture of the Daemen Athletic Department. I wish him all the best."
- Todd Witzleben, associate head coach, men's cross country, University at Buffalo
"I coached Pete while he was at Le Moyne. He was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the cross country team. He worked hard and pushed himself to improve. He would encourage and motivate the younger members of the team to work hard to improve the team. I'm sure Pete will carry these qualities with him as he takes on the coaching duties at Daemen. Post college, Pete has continued to have success in his running, and he is a dedicated husband and father."
- Gerry Mahon, former head coach, men's cross country, Le Moyne College (1986-2011)
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.