Hassan Mead and Pieter Gagnon to run the 10k at the Payton Jordan at Stanford
Paul Thornton is in his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Golden Gopher men's track & field team. Thornton oversees the Gophers' sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and multi-event athletes.
In 2011 Thornton guides thesprinters, jumpers, and multi-event athletes to very successful seasons. He guided the 4x400 relay to an NCAA berth aswell as fourth All-Americans in Harun Abda, Kevin Bradley, Jacob Capek and John Holton.
Thornton's charges helped Minnesota sweep the Big Ten indoor and outdoor titles in 2010. A highlight of the season was the performance of the heptathletes during the indoor season. After grabbing the first three places in the Big Ten meet, R.J. McGinnis, Jack Szmanda and Brock Spandl all earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. Minnesota placed eighth at the indoor national meet.
During his second season at Minnesota, Thornton was honored by his peers earning Midwest Region Men's Assistant Coach of the Year acclaim by the U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association for the indoor season.
"Paul's done a great job in the time he's been at Minnesota," said Golden Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia. "I fully expect this is just the beginning. Paul is a young coach with a bright future."
Thornton, a Northfield, Minn., native, came to Minnesota after five years as the head men's and women's head track coach at Washington University in St. Louis, a powerful NCAA Division III program. The Bears' women's team placed third at the 2008 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships andThornton was recognized as the U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year.
During Thornton's tenure, Washington won 14 University Athletic Association (UAA) team titles. The women's team captured UAA titles in nine of the 10 championships (indoor and outdoor) contested during his reign with the Bears. The Bears swept the men's and women's UAA team titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Thornton spent three seasons as the head men's and women's track & field coach at St. Mary's (Minn.) before moving to Washington. He started his coaching career at Illinois State, first as a graduate assistant, then as an assistant coach and finally with four seasons as ISU's associate head coach (1996-2000).
Thornton was a three-time Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAC) honoree during his collegiate track career at St. Olaf. He helped the Oles' 4x400-meter relay to an NCAA Championships appearance in 1993 and was voted the team's most valuable runner. Thornton earned four varsity letters in both cross country and track at St. Olaf, while being coached by his father Bill. He earned a bachelor's degree in sports science in 1993.
Thornton, who earned a master's degree in exercise physiology and biomechanics from Illinois State in 1995, and his wife Julie have two children, Marisa and Zach.