ATLANTA - After leading the Berry College women's cross country team to their first Southern Athletic Association (SAA) title, Paul Deaton was named SAA Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year through exclusive voting by the coaches of the SAA.
This year, Deaton has led the women's team to their highest regional finish in program history, placing sixth overall at last week's NCAA Mount Berry Regional. He also coached Danielle Patterson to a fifth place individual finish and national-qualifying time of 22:32.30. She is the first national qualifier in Berry's four-year NCAA history. Alainna Chretien also posted an impressive regional time under Deaton's guidance, earning All-Region honors after a PR of 23:32.10.
At the SAA Championships, five runners placed on the All-Conference teams including freshman Abby Caroll who earned Newcomer-of-the-Year. Patterson was a first-team selection after a runner-up finish in addition to an SAA Runner of the Week honor earlier in the year.
Deaton has been coaching at Berry since 1991 when he served under Dr. Bob Pearson as the assistant coach. He took over head coaching duties of the men's team in 1992 and the women's team in 1996. Deaton coached Berry for 18 years in the NAIA. During his tenure at Berry in the NAIA, Deaton has coached 15 All-Americans to a total of 43 All-American awards in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. He has also made demands of his athletes in the classroom, where 24 of Deaton's runners have earned NAIA Academic awards a total of 63 times. Deaton was named the Conference Coach of the Year 12 times, NAIA Regional Coach of the Year 12 times, and State Coach of the Year four times.