STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton has appointed Clay Holland as the next head coach of its cross country and track and field programs.
Holland brings 14 years of coaching experience to the table, including seven at the NCAA Division I ranks. He spent the last four years as the top assistant coach at Tarleton and also enjoyed tenures at Texas State (2009-2012) and University of Texas at Arlington (2012-2014).
“We are excited to have Clay (Holland) as the next head coach of our cross country and track and field programs at Tarleton State University,” said Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Lonn Reisman. “We went through an elaborate search with some very qualified individuals, but Clay’s qualifications spoke for themselves.
“He brings a high-level, Division I mindset to our department following his time at Texas State and UTA, and the success he has had with our student-athletes during his time as the interim head coach,” Reisman continued. “He’s a high-character coach and I have no doubt that our men’s and women’s programs will have continued success at this level.”
He replaces Pat Ponder, who announced his retirement following a 15-year run as Tarleton’s head coach.
“I’m truly blessed to be the next head coach of Tarleton cross country and track and field,” Holland said. “This is a place I truly fell in love with four years ago. I never imagined Tarleton State being the place I call home, but after being here for four seasons, getting to know the athletes, the institution, the leadership, I’m extremely blessed to be here with this program.”
Holland has spearheaded Tarleton track and field from the NCAA Division II ranks into a fixture in the Western Athletic Conference.
Since arriving in Stephenville in 2018, Holland has produced 58 All-Conference athletes and three NCAA Division II All-Americans and seen 68 of his athletes ascend into the program’s all-time top-10 record book.
While Holland was serving as the interim head coach, the Texans dazzled during the 2022 indoor season – his first in a head coaching role. Tarleton saw 11 athletes earn All-WAC first or second team accolades and broke 10 school records. Holland coached Justin Raines to the WAC Indoor 60m Championship and WAC Indoor Freshman of the Year honors. Raines and fellow freshman Rylee Hennig also earned bronze medals in the 60m hurdles and high jump under Holland’s tutelage.
He worked directly with Tarleton’s jumpers, sprinters, hurdlers, and multi-event athletes while recruiting all event groups in his first three years as an assistant coach.
Holland’s athletes were among the most touted and credentialed on campus in Tarleton’s first season at NCAA Division I. During the 2020-21 outdoor campaign, Holland coached a program and school record 14 athletes to All-WAC honors. Additionally, three of Holland’s athletes were crowned conference champions; Jasmine McQuirter in the 100m dash, Gentrye Munden in the high jump and Alan Palmer in the long jump.
“If you look at our program and our athletes, they love wearing the purple and white,” Holland said. “It really means something to them to represent Tarleton. We’ve found a really good group of athletes that want to be here, that want to be their best, and we’re going to have to continue to build on that. We’ll be able to build a program going forward, but it’s going to take time, it’s going to take effort, and it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Holland worked as a graduate assistant for a year at Texas State following a four-year run as a student athlete. He was then elevated into an assistant coaching role, where he also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator. Holland coached combined events, jumps, hurdles and relays, helping 11 athletes earn 11 all-conference recognition and six become NCAA National Qualifiers.
He then spent two years at UTA as the director of track and field events and facilities manager.
He was previously an assistant track and field coach at Texas Lutheran University from 2016-2018. Holland coached 59 all-conference athletes, 13 conference champions, 12 USTFCCCA All South/Southeast Regional Athletes of the Year, nine NCAA National Qualifiers and five NCAA Division III All-Americans. He was named the USTFCCCA All South/Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year during his tenure in Seguin.
Originally from Junction, Texas, Holland earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science while at Texas State.
He and his wife, Whitney, have two children, a daughter, Lakelyn, and a son, Hayes.