RILEY ROUNDS OUT COACHING STAFF ADDITIONS OF COOK, THOMAS

RICHMOND, Va. – There will definitely not be a shortage of energy from the Virginia Commonwealth University track & field coaching staff as Head Coach Jon Riley announced the additions of Allyson Thomas and Nicole Cook to round out his staff.

"We're a young, very energetic group of coaches that are passionate about this program and eager to get to work," Riley said. "I'm really excited to have my staff in tact and ready to get moving."

Thomas (pictured right) will be in charge of the pole vault and multi events, while Cook will take over the mid-distance, distance and cross country events.

After spending the past two years as a part-time assistant for Riley, Thomas has the chance to dedicate all her time and energy to the Black & Gold. In just two years, she has already helped take down the outdoor pole vaulting record, thanks to a leap of 11' 7 ¾" by Stephanie Newing.

"Ally is no stranger to the program. She's been working with us for the past two years as a graduate assistant and part time assistant and her ability to relate to our athletes has been tremendous," Riley said. "I can't wait to see how great a job she does now that she can focus all her energy and time to this program on a full-time level."

Thomas is no stranger to the pole vault and multi events after being a four-year standout for the University of Maine track & field squad, earning All-Conference accolades in the pole vault on three occasions.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity that Coach Riley has given me," Thomas said. "I have a passion for track & field and coaching is something that I've loved doing since I was young. I couldn't dream of doing anything else."

Cook (pictured left) is no stranger to anyone who follows the sport of track & field, particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Petersburg, Va. native, comes to VCU after spending several years on the professional track circuit and working as a high school assistant coach. She brings a resume that boasts a national team title and an individual title in the 800-meter while a part of the University of Tennessee track & field squad.

"Nicole is going to be an incredible asset for this program," Riley said. "She's very familiar with the area and well-known throughout the state. With her addition, we hope to attract high quality distance athletes. We're not looking for a quick fix, but I feel over a period of time, we can demonstrate our commitment to getting better in that area."

Around Virginia, Cook is a celebrity at track & field meets with several state records to her name and after picking up eight All-American accolades during her time with the Volunteers, it only boasted her rockstar status.

"This is an opportunity I could not pass up and I thank Coach Riley for giving me this chance," Cook said. "I love the Richmond community and I can't wait to hit the ground running."

Along with the mid-distance events, Cook will be charged with leading the cross country squads, who open up their seasons on September 10th at the UVA Season Opener.

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