Skyhawk Cross-Country | Peter Dalton - Head Coach
The University of Tennessee at Martin athletics director Julio Freire has announced the hiring of Peter Dalton as the seventh head cross country coach in program history after long time coach Gordon Sanders announced his retirement from the program in mid-December. Sanders led the Skyhawks for 10 seasons while seeing several records revitalize the program standards.
“I am thankful to Coach Sanders for his many years of service to UT Martin and Skyhawk student-athletes,” said Freire. “We wish him and his wife the very best in their new endeavors.”
Dalton comes to UT Martin after a stellar career at King University where he turned the men’s and women’s cross country teams into NCAA Division II Southeast Region powers. Dalton served as head men’s and women’s cross country coach for the past seven years. He also served as a coach in the track and field program, including the title of head coach from 2010-12.
“We are fortunate to attract a cross country coach of Peter Dalton’s character and ability,” said Freire. “His competitive record is unbelievable and I am equally impressed by his commitment to the academic and social development of the student-athletes. Peter will be an outstanding addition to UT Martin, Skyhawk athletics and West Tennessee.”
“It is both humbling and exciting to be a part of Skyhawk nation,” Dalton said. “Athletics director Julio Freire has clearly explained the vision for the future and I am ready to put my experience to work so we can achieve our goals as a team, department and institution.”
Dalton led the cross country teams through King's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. In their first-ever NCAA Regional meet in 2010, the King women's cross country team finished second at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, becoming King's first team to qualify for an NCAA Championship in the first year as a full NCAA Division II member.
The women followed that up with a third place finish in their first Conference Carolinas Championship in 2011, before running off a string of three consecutive conference championships from 2012-14. On the men's side, King has finished as the Conference Carolinas runner-up during each of the four years in the conference and has twice qualified for the NCAA Championships by finishing in the top three at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Championship in 2012 and 2013.
Dalton has been named Conference Carolinas Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year each of the past three seasons and has earned three track and field conference coach of the year awards. All of these awards came in the 2012-13 season that saw King win three of a possible four Conference Carolinas track and field championships.
"Peter is one of the most talented young distance coaches in the country," King University athletic director David Hicks said. "In a matter of four years, he has taken a newcomer and complete unknown in NCAA Division II and transformed King into a regional cross country power. The University of Tennessee at Martin is gaining a tremendous coach who will lead their programs into prominence in NCAA Division I."
Including four Conference Carolinas championships in indoor and outdoor track and field from 2012-13, Dalton led the Tornado to a total of seven Conference Carolinas championships in cross country and track and field, and coached three different teams and multiple individuals to the NCAA Championships. In addition, the cross country teams consistently finished with a GPA amongst the highest in the country, receiving the USTFCCCA Scholar Team award multiple times.
Nearly every King record in cross country and track has been broken during the last seven years, and numerous student-athletes have earned all-conference and all-region honors, in addition to numerous individual and team academic honors.
Coaching runs in the Dalton family as his father was a seven-time Irish National team manager for the World Champions. Continuous involvement at the highest coaching levels worldwide has prepared Dalton with all the necessary knowledge, passion and love of the sport to help give back to those that wish to succeed. Dalton's coaching exposure began at an early age under the tutelage of Irish Olympians Noel Berkeley and Gerry McGrath. Both Olympic legends have scientifically studied the art of distance running at the highest level and that experience is the foundation of Coach Dalton's coaching philosophy. Dalton was also fortunate enough to experience first-hand the coaching theories of NCAA Hall of Fame Coach Dave Walker during his time as a student-athlete at East Tennessee State University.
Dalton received his bachelor's degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University where he was a four-year cross country and track and field athlete for the Buccaneers. Dalton, a two-year captain, led the Buccaneers to the inaugural Atlantic Sun Indoor Track and Field Conference Championships and to the highest Buccaneer Cross Country conference finish in 12 years. Dalton was named to numerous all-conference and all-academic teams for both cross country and track and field during his time at ETSU and was also named the Buccaneers MVP for two consecutive seasons.
Before arriving at East Tennessee State University, Dalton competed eight times for his native Ireland. As part of the D.S.D. Athletic Club, Dalton and his teammates won a record-setting eight consecutive national team titles and went on to finish third at the European Junior Clubs Cross Country Championships. He rose to prominence when he captured Ireland's first ever international victory at the British and Irish Mountain Running Championships, and went on to secure a 21st place finish at the World Championships.
Dalton will take over for a program which boasts prominent players on both squads. The junior duo of Justin Morgan and Hayley Doty each earned invitations to the NCAA South Regional after pacing their respective squads in every meet this fall while posting numerous personal bests and earning team most valuable performer honors.