Earl Graves Named Director Of Track and Field/Cross Country; Jackie Kirby Named Head Cross Country Coach

Earl Graves Named Director Of Track and Field/Cross Country;  Jackie Kirby Named Head Cross Country Coach

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. ---  Earl Graves and Jackie Kirby will be promoted to new positions it was announced by Vice President of Athletics Jeff Eisen. Earl Graves will be the new Director of Track and Field/Cross Country and Head Track and Field Coach and Jackie Kirby will be the new Head Cross Country Coach and will remain as Associate Head Coach of Track and Field. Both promotions will take place upon departure of current Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Matt van Lierop at the end of May.

"This is a great opportunity for us to do some restructuring of the coaching staff and to recognize two of our assistant coaches for their contributions to the program's success.  Earl will be a great leader for the program as a whole, while Jackie's expertise in the distances will allow cross country to continue to be a strong point for the program.  We have an outstanding group of coaches and student-athletes, and we look forward to seeing the program continue to excel," said Eisen.  

Earl Graves joined the Trojans in 2017 and since his arrival has helped coach 52 all-region athletes and 54 all-conference athletes. He has seen 48 school records broken, 12 NCAA qualifying marks reached, 15 conference championships obtained, and 11 NCAA Division II All-Americans honors captured. 

"I want to thank Dr. Poole, Mr. Eisen, and the search committee for their support and trust in naming me the new director.  It is my goal to help shape high character student-athletes who will continue to succeed after their time at Mount Olive.  Coach van Lierop built a great program and I'm excited about the challenge of improving upon the success he had here at UMO.  Moving forward we intend on being one of the best programs in Division II every year.  There are many great people here at Mount Olive and I'm grateful to be a part of this community," said Graves.

Graves came to UMO after spending two years coaching at Alderson Broaddus University where he was an Assistant Cross Country/Track & Field Coach, working with the sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers. In addition to serving as an assistant coach, Graves was a recruiting coordinator and the department's strength and conditioning coordinator.

Prior to his time at Alderson Broaddus, Graves coached at Frostburg State University (2013-15) and Jefferson Forest High School (2009-13).

Graves graduated from Lynchburg College in 2009 where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He obtained his Master of Science in Recreation & Parks Management in 2016 from Frostburg State University.

As a student-athlete at Lynchburg, Graves helped the Hornets to seven Old Dominion Athletic Conference team championships while qualifying for the NCAA's four times and winning 10 individual ODAC championships.

Jackie Kirby joined the University of Mount Olive in the fall of 2009 as an assistant coach for the Trojan men's and women's cross country and track and field teams. Kirby was promoted to associate coach in July 2014.

"I am honored to be appointed head coach of cross country and associate head coach of track and field. I am thrilled to work alongside our new Director and Head Coach Earl Graves and our other coaching staff members. I am eager to continue working with the distance runners and to keep our methods and traditions alive. My goal is to maintain our current development rate, strive for conference championship wins, and build on our success on the regional and national stage," said Kirby. 

Since her time at Mount Olive, the men's cross country team has earned a berth in the NCAA Division II Men's Cross Country Championship in each of the last seven years, finishing in the top 20 in 2013 (16th), 2014 (19th), and 2017 (11th). The women's team earned their first NCAA DII Women's Cross Country National Championship appearance in 2017, finishing 28th.

She has been a two-time Southeast Region Outdoor Track & Field Assistant Coach of the Year, two-time Southeast Region Indoor Track & Field Assistant Coach of the Year, and was the 2015 UMO Chaplain's Choice Coach of the Year.

Kirby has assisted in the Trojans' 36 Conference Carolinas Conference Championships, four Southeast Region Men's Cross Country Championships, 46 NCAA Division II All-America awards, 11 NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship appearances, seven NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championship appearances, and eight NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championship appearances.

Kirby is a graduate of Keystone College, where she earned a B.A. in visual arts with a concentration in photography and graphic design.

Kirby was a decorated cross country and track and field athlete at Keystone. She was a three-time cross country conference champion (twice in the Northeast Athletic Conference, senior year in the Colonial States Athletic Conference) and still holds school records for the fastest time in both the 5k and 6k. Kirby was a two-time all-region selection and qualified for the NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country National Championship in her junior and senior years.

Kirby was the 2009 CSAC Track and Field Athlete of the Year and qualified for the 2009 NCAA Division III Women's Track and Field Championship in the 5,000 meters and the mile. Kirby also holds school records in 10 different events.