Hesston College Athletic Director Rob Ramseyer has announced the hiring of Matthew Goetz of Colwich, Kan., to coach the Lark men’s and women’s cross country and track teams. Goetz will replace long serving coach Gerry Sieber upon his retirement at the end of this semester.
“I got a great feel for the college during the multiple visits to campus,” said Goetz. “The faculty, coaching staff, administration and the students seemed to portray a relationship-based environment. I’m looking forward to contributing to that culture.”
Goetz graduated from Fort Hays (Kan.) State University in 2009 where he ran track and cross country. He was then able to join the coaching staff at FHSU. There he cut his teeth in the coaching world before moving on to join the Holton High School track and field coaching staff.
At Holton he guided many distance runners to state qualification and help them break numerous school records. During this time, Coach Goetz earned his master’s degree from Fort Hays State in health and human performance.
“I’m very excited to start working with the runners. I have been away from the coaching realm for a little over a year and can feel the itch to get started.”
Ramseyer is pleased with Goetz’s appointment. “We are excited to add another qualified and passionate coach to our coaching staff,” he said. “We look forward to seeing what Matt will do building upon the foundation of quality at Hesston College.”
Goetz also brings teaching and real world experience with him to Hesston College. He has taught business classes at Holton High School, Newton High School and Highland Community College.
Saturday was a really special day for the Hesston College cross country teams. Running at the Bethel College Invitational just 15 minutes from campus allowed for strong local support and resulted in both teams earning the team victories. “The Bethel meet is like a home meet for us,” said Head Coach Gerry Sieber. “A good number of supporters and spectators, faculty, staff, students and parents were present.” This was the first time both teams swept the team victories at the same event.
The women really dominated their 5K race with 26 points. Samantha Trejo won the race with a 20:25.20 time. Sierra Broce finished third and Katelyn Kilmer (4th) and Sadie Winter (6th) rounded out the Larks in the top 10. Emporia State finished in 2nd to the Larks with 39 points with two NAIA schools in 3rd (Bethel – 79) and 4th (Oklahoma Wesleyan – 80).
The men’s team also put in a solid run as they won the team championship with 27 points. The 8K race saw Jonathan Landis finish second with a time of 28:44.92. Angus Siemens (6th), Lucas Schmucker (7th) and Brandon Kirby (9th) rounded out the top 10 for the Larks. Central Christian (33) and Oklahoma Wesleyan (70) finished second and third behind the Larks.
“It was nice for our runners to have the spectator support,” said coach Sieber. “It was a great environment, enhanced by the success of both teams. A great day for Hesston College, we are Lark strong!”
The Larks will next run at the Johnson County Community College Alumni Run on October 20.
by Mackenzie Miller ’18, Matthew Gerlach contributing writer
Runner’s World magazines dating back to the 1970s are piled high around his office. Team photos hang on the wall. And there, in the middle of all the memories, sits Gerry Sieber, reminiscing on his lifelong love for athletics and his 30 years at Hesston College, now coming to an end.
Sieber will retire after this year’s cross country season, but his coaching career at Hesston College goes far beyond that sport. Sieber has coached soccer, basketball, track and field and cross country. He has even taught wellness classes and served as athletic director for the college. The race has been long, but not without reward.
In 2015, Sieber was inducted into the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame as the longtime mentor of the Larks’ winningest program. in 23 seasons his teams tallied 247 wins and ten region titles, 22 players earned NJCAA All-American honors and Sieber was named Coach of the Year eight times. He says he draws on much more than strategy in the game.
“We had success, we won a lot of games, a lot of championships. But the thrill of getting a lot of students together was this idea of 11 becoming one. Winning was pretty important, but there are a lot of other things that make it meaningful: The growth of the players and the development of the whole person.”
Sadie Winter, a sophomore cross country runner, witnesses this daily.
“Gerry works very hard to build community and accountability within the team,” she says. “He wants the team to be connected and supportive. He doesn’t just work on improving our running, he also stresses the importance of academics, overall physical health and spiritual growth.”
Sieber has always stayed true to the idea of growth on and off the field, taking teams on service trips to Argentina and Puerto Rico and leading some of Hesston’s experiential learning trips to Arkansas and Colorado.
After graduating from Hesston College (‘64) and then Goshen College (‘66), Sieber headed to Tabor College (Hillsboro) to teach physical education and to coach. But after two years as a Tabor Bluejay, positions opened at Hesston College for a head soccer, basketball, and track coach. Sieber returned to his old stomping grounds to be a Lark.
“Because of my love for sports and playing, I was drawn into the vocation of coaching and teaching,” Sieber said. “The fact that I went to Hesston and had played sports at Hesston made this a natural progression.”
He dabbled in many sports while at Hesston, but Sieber calls soccer “his main sport.”
Coaching at Bethel College (North Newton) in between his time at Hesston College (1994 to 2009), Sieber continued to coach men’s soccer, started the women’s soccer program, coached track and field and launched the cross country team for the Threshers.
And that is where Sieber finds himself in his last coaching season: with the Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country team.
The Larks cross country team boasts a women’s group Sieber says is the strongest he’s ever had the privilege of coaching.
“This is my last coaching ‘dance,’” he said. “I haven’t told the team this, but I really want it to be a good dance. And I think it will be.”
When the season ends, Sieber will continue to stay active through racquetball, biking and swimming. He plans to spend time with family, travel and volunteer.
Summarizing 30 years of coaching at Hesston College and 49 years of coaching is not easily done, but Sieber continues to express his gratitude and humbleness to have had the opportunities to teach, coach and mentor young adults.
“I feel truly privileged, stretched, humbled and grateful for the opportunity to teach, coach, mentor and serve as a role model to young adults,” Sieber said.
“I am blessed to be the recipient of so many wonderful experiences with so many wonderful people. And to have been surrounded, supported and mentored with the communities I have been a part of. Thank you to my family, church, friends, the town of Hesston, the school’s alumni and faculty, staff and administrators.”
The 2017 Hesston College cross country teams are preparing and building off of the great momentum and excitement from last season. The women’s team competed in the NJCAA national tournament and have four of their top five runners returning. The focus has been to grow progressively and safely through the team’s summer base training, working specifically on various components of long distance running, endurance, speed, strength and flexibility.
The team has added nine new runners to the existing four returning women and six returning men. Coach Gerry Sieber is excited and says “How well we compete has to be measured with the fact that we compete against some NCAA II schools, against no JV teams and against, arguably, the strongest junior college region in the country!” He adds, “a point of emphasis is to create good, positive and supportive culture for the challenging and lengthy journey ahead for our team — the mental and psycho-socio aspects of our sport. We will be Lark strong.”
The Hesston College cross country team is once again being recognized for earning a team academic award, just like they have every year for the previous six years that Gerry Sieber has been coaching. The fall 2016 men’s cross country team is ranked first nationally in the cross country academic team standings with a 3.911 GPA, and the women’s team is ranked eighth with a 3.755 GPA.
Rankings are based upon teams that nominate at least five members for Academic All-American honors.
Since the cross country program’s start in 2010, the men have finished in the top ten every year and the women close behind, finishing in the top ten three times in all seven years. However, Sieber doesn’t feel like he can be attributed for these impressive high-academic standards.
“I don’t feel like I can take much credit for it,” Sieber said. “It’s remarkable and I’m proud of this fantastic achievement. It feels good for them to have this kind of success.”
Not only does this accomplishment mean a lot to Sieber and the team, but also to the Hesston College community.
“Our athletic department and Hesston College community are extremely proud of this accomplishment by the cross country team and Coach Sieber,” said Athletic Director, Rob Ramseyer. “They exemplify what we hope for and expect out of our athletic teams through their positive impact in their sport and in our community.”
For the Larks, being a student athlete requires a lot of balance and time management. Members of each team not only participate in their sport and attend classes, but also might have campus jobs, serve as resident assistants, ministry assistants, student ambassadors, or participate in music, theatre or clubs. Taking all these factors into consideration, makes this achievement all the more remarkable.
“I think it’s a reflection of the culture on the campus of Hesston College and on the culture that we have created in our cross country program that values academics,” said Sieber. “Everyone on Hesston’s campus has contributed to our runners’ success.”
The Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country teams participated in the Region VI meet this past weekend in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The men finished 13th of out 16 schools and the women finished ninth of 11. “This was an extremely talented field of runners as seven or eight of the schools at the meet are, or have been, ranked in the top 25 at some point this fall,”, Coach Gerry Sieber commented. “I was pleased with how we competed.””
Freshman Sierra Broce (Goddard, Kan.) paced the Lark women, finishing in 20:50 on the 5k course – 26th place. Freshmen Sadie Winter (Newton, Kan. – 49th/21:55), Katelyn Kilmer (Goshen, Ind. – 52nd/22:02.29) and Savannah Bontrager (Milford, Neb. – 64th/24:32) and sophomore Renee Buckwalter (Wellman, Iowa – 51st/22:02.27) also scored for the Larks with sophomore Eva Dwyer (Goshen, Ind. – 66th/25:03) rounding out the team.
Sophomore Kyle Good (Harrisonburg, Va.) led the Lark men, finishing the 8k course in 30:23, good for a 62nd place finish, followed closely by sophomore Wyatt Baer (Marshallville, Ohio – 70th/30:59) and freshman Luccas Schmucker (Hesston – 72nd/31:08). Freshmen Angus Siemens (Newton, Kan. – 82nd/31:54), Andre Eanes (Harrisonburg, Va. – 92nd/32:50), Dillon Unruh (Wilmore, Kan. – 94th/33:28) and Kyle Stucky (Moundridge, Kan. – 99th/34:55) and sophomore Jonah Short-Miller (35:30) also competed.
The Lark women will run at the NJCAA National Cross Country Championship Meet November 12 in El Dorado, Kan. The meet is hosted by Butler County Community College.
The Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country teams participated in their fourth meet of the season Saturday, Oct. 8, making a statement at the Bethel College Invitational.
The Lark women handily won the team competition and had the second fastest 5K average time for the top five runners in the history of Hesston women’s cross country, now in the seventh year. Sierra Broce paced the Larks, finishing first overall with a time of 20:21, her lifetime best. Sadie Winter (21:04.26) finished fourth, Rene Buckwalter (21:25, 7th) and Katelyn Kilmer (22:28, 9th) rounded out the top 10 for Hesston College. Other runners who helped lead the Larks to the title were: Eva Dwyer (22:56, 12th), Savanah Bontrager (24:09, 15th) and Becky Jensen (25:00, 16th).
Wyatt Baer led the men’s team, finishing sixth in the 8K race with a time of 29:02. Kyle Good (29:12, 7th) and Luccas Schmucker (29:18, 8th) also finished in the top 10 for the Larks. Angus Siemens (30:01, 12th), Andre Eanes (30:41, 14th), Avery Pike (30:48, 15th), Jonah Short-Miller (31:32, 17th), Dillon Unruh (31:50, 18th) and Kyle Stucky (34:03, 20th) rounded out the Larks team. All of the Hesston College runners ran personal record times at Bethel.
“It was a good day for Hesston College cross country” Head Coach Gerry Sieber commented. “In spite of the limited number of participating schools (4), our runners brought some good focus and a good effort which resulted in some really good individual and team performances.”
The cross country teams look to continue strong performances when they race again Oct. 17 in El Dorado at the Butler Community College Invitational. The women’s starts at 4 p.m., followed by the men’ race at 4:45.
The Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country teams participated in their third meet of the season Friday, Sept. 23, at the Tabor College Invitational Marion Reservoir, just outside of Hillsboro, Kan., and showed quite well.
The Lark men finished fourth out of seven and only six points out of third. Wyatt Baer finished 21st with a 31:13 time on the 8K course, followed by three freshmen – Angus Siemens (31:40), Avery Pike (31:49) and Andre Eanes (32:29) who finished 26th, 27th and 31st respectively. Jonah Short-Miller (38th, 33:01) and Dillon Unruh (40th, 33:38) also competed for the Larks.
Hesston’s women also finished fourth (out of six) only one point behind McPherson College. The women had three runners who medaled, finishing in the top 15 places. Sierra Broce (Goddard, Kan.) led the team with a seventh place finish on a 21:26 time for the 5K race. Sadie Winter (21:45) and Rene Buckwalter (21:46) finished 12th and 13th, just one second apart. Eva Dwyer (29th, 24:24) and Savannah Bontrager (31st, 24:55) rounded out the Hesston team.
“Coming off of two weeks of hard training, this was a good result for our team,” said Coach Gerry Sieber. The McPherson College Bulldogs took the overall men’s title, the women’s title going to Dodge City.
Cross country will have a weekend off before running again at Bethel College Invitational Oct. 8. with races at 10 (women) and 10:45 a.m. (men).
The Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country teams participated in their second meet of the season Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Hastings (Neb.) College Bronco Stampede.
Hesston College was one of two juco schools at the event, the other competing schools being NCAA D3 or NAIA. The Lark men finished 5th out of 6 schools and the women placed 6th out of 7. Freshman Sierra Broce (Goodard, Kan.) ran well placing 22nd overall with a substantial time improvement over her first race. On the men’s side, sophomore Kyle Good (Harrisonburg, Va.) ran a strong race, his first of the season, finishing 23rd overall.
“This was a good meet for our team. All of the teams were new colleges we had not run against previously this year and will not likely see them again. It’s good to see and run against teams we seldom see as opposed to running against the same teams over and over.” Coach Sieber said.
Cross country will return for their third meet Friday, Sept. 23, at the Tabor College Invitational.
The Hesston College men’s and women’s cross country teams opened the 2016 fall season Friday night, Sept. 2, at the Twilight Classic in Hutchinson, Kan.
Freshman Sadie Winter (Newton, Kan.) paced all Hesston runners with a three-mile (4.83km) time of 20:28.2, good for 22nd overall. Renee Buckwalter (Wellman, Iowa – 57th), Eva Dwyer (Middlebury, Ind. – 84th), Becky Jensen (Wichita, Kan. – 94th) and Savannah Bontrager (Milford, Neb. – 96th) also finished for the Larks.
On the men’s side, sophomore, Wyatt Baer (Marshallville, Ohio) led the Larks with a four-mile time of 23:30.2, 64th overall, followed closely by Luccas Schmucker (Hesston, Kan. – 65th) and Angus Siemens (Newton, Kan. – 66th). Andre Eanes (Harrisonburg, Va. – 92nd), Avery Pike (Ellinwood, Kan. – 97th), Jonah Short-Miller (Bellingham, Wash. – 101st), Dillon Unruh (Willmore, Kan. – 108th) and Keegan Cook (Whitewater, Kan. – 109th) rounded out the Larks squad. The men’s team placed 14th in a 15-team field.
The Larks next meet is Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Bronco Stampede/ Hastings (Neb.) College (Elks Country Club).
Hesston College men’s cross country coach Gerry Sieber announces Levi Litwiller, a senior at Olympia High School, Hopedale, Ill., as the newest addition to Hesston College Athletics.
Litwiller, a 2015 state qualifier in the 300 hurdles, will continue his track career with the Larks. A High Honor Roll student and Industrial Tech department award winner, he will study engineering at Hesston.
“Levi is the first track signee at Hesston,” Sieber said. “Based on his high school accomplishments, we feel that Levi will be a good trail blazer and leader for our track program.”
Litwiller attends Hopedale Mennonite Church. He is the son of Dan and Suzette Litwiller, Hopedale.
Hesston College men’s cross country coach Gerry Sieber announces Angus Siemens, a senior at Newton (Kan.) High School, as the newest addition to the Larks program.
Siemens competes in swimming and track at Newton High in addition to cross country. He will enroll in Hesston’s Disaster Management Program.
“The work ethic and experience that Angus has received under the guidance of Newton coach Richard Mack will serve him and our team well,” Sieber said. “I’m excited that Angus has chosen to join our cross country family. I’m confident he will continue to mature and get stronger, and that his best running days are ahead of him.”
Siemens attends Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kan. He is the son of Doug and LuAnn Zook, Newton.
Hesston College men’s cross country coach Gerry Sieber announces Luccas Schmucker, a senior at Hesston (Kan.) High School, as the newest addition to the Larks program.
A four-year varsity runner for Hesston High, Schmucker was a key part of the Swathers’ 2013 cross country team that placed third at the state meet. Schmucker also competes in track for Hesston. He will study aviation at Hesston College.
“Luccas will bring an extensive running background to our team,” Sieber said. “I’m very excited to get this personable, down-to-earth, hometown kid into our program.”
Schmucker attends Hesston Mennonite Brethren Church and is active in the youth group there. He is the son of Matt and Susan Hastings, Hesston.
Hesston College men’s cross country coach Gerry Sieber announces Mason Kerr, a senior at Clearwater (Kan.) High School, as the newest addition to the Larks program.
Kerr runs track and cross country at Clearwater High. His signing adds to a recent flurry of roster additions for the growing Hesston program. He will study youth ministry and physical education at Hesston.
“Mason will bring a quiet resolve to our team,” Sieber said. “His extensive experience in both cross country and track will definitely impact our team, and I’m excited Mason will be with us.”
Kerr is the son of Abe and Andrea Kerr, Clearwater.