Sean Carlson joined the Notre Dame cross country and track & field staff in November 2011. Now entering his fifth season with the Irish, Carlson works as the assistant cross country coach for the men’s and women’s distance runners during the fall. He is responsible for the men's and women's middle distance and steeplechase runners during the track season, along with recruiting.
During his tenure with the Irish, Carlson has assisted in coaching NCAA Championships contenders, All-Americans and all-conference performers. In 2015, the Irish women's track team finished 13th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, its highest finish in program history.
Among the standouts to excel while working with Carlson is Alexa Aragon, a four-time All-American (including twice in the 3,000 meter steeplechase) and Notre Dame record-holder in the steeplechase. Aragon’s steeplechase record of 9:54.37 coincided with an eighth-place finish and All-America honors at the NCAA Championships in 2014. Among his current charges is freshman Jessica Harris, who set three school records (600 meters, 800 meters, 1,000 meters) in her first three collegiate races.
The Notre Dame women’s cross country program has qualified for the NCAA Championships each year of Carlson’s time with the Irish, while the men have made the trip three times. The Irish women reached a high-water mark in 2012, when the team finished 15th of 31 teams.
On the track, Carlson helped coach the Irish women to a runner-up finish at the outdoor championships in their inaugural year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the men placed third. Both teams finished in third place at the ACC Indoor Championships in 2013-14.
During the 2012-13 season, Carlson helped the Irish women’s track & field team to a pair of BIG EAST Championships, while the men’s squad snagged two second-place finishes. During the cross country season, both Irish teams recorded top-30 finishes at the NCAA Championships.
In 2011-12, Carlson helped the Irish men’s track & field program win two BIG EAST Championships, while the women earned a pair of top-four conference finishes. In the spring, he helped coach the men’s distance medley relay team to an NCAA Championship during the indoor season, while the men’s program went on to place 12th overall at the meet.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Carlson was a cross country coach and head distance coach for track at Saint Charles North High School in Saint Charles, Illinois. There he helped with both practice and operations in addition to his coaching responsibilities.
A team captain and All-American at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, from 2006-10, Carlson helped the cross country squad capture a Division III national championship in 2009 after a runner-up finish in 2008. In 2009, he won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin individual cross country championship. In 2010, the track & field squad claimed both the NCAA Division III indoor and outdoor crowns. Upon graduation, Carlson worked as a volunteer assistant track coach for seven months at his alma mater before moving on to Saint Charles North and, ultimately, Notre Dame.