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Panther runner thrives for K-State Wildcats


MANHATTAN – Great Bend native Kerby Depenbusch continues to shine for Kansas State’s track and cross country teams with a recent 11th-place 5,000 (14:59.23) and a 12th-place 3,000 (8:25.27) at the Big 12 Track Championship in Manhattan.

Depenbusch owns a trio of top 10 career times at K-State -- his 8K cross country time in third-fastest; his 5K ranks seventh (13:33); and his 10K time is sixth fastest (29:53). His 3K time is a second away from top 10 (8:19); and his outdoor 4K ranks three seconds away from being top 10.

Competing at the Division 1 level is a dream come true that Depenbusch never takes for granted. He’s the son of Brandon and Andrea Depenbusch.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kansas State,” he said. “I love everything about K-State and Manhattan, and wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to commit there. It’s an honor to represent a university, city, and state that I love while doing the sport that I love.”

During the 2020 cross country season, he barely missed All-Big 12 honors with a 16th-place outing with a personal best in the 8k meet (24:05.5).

“The race that proved to myself and others that I belonged at the Division 1 level was the 2020 cross country Big 12 championship,” he said. “I placed 16th, nearly earning my first Big 12 medal (top 15 medal). The time I ran was the third fastest in K-State history. The majority who beat me were national-caliber and world-class athletes.”

It’s been a challenging past three semesters because of the pandemic, both in school and in competition. Depenbusch has enrolled in three in-person classes during the past three semesters with everything else online.

“Having most classes online, has led to less time on campus, but more school work at home,” he said. “The majority of the meetings have been on Zoom, which has been hard to get used to.”

Athletes have been regularly tested for CO-VID on a weekly basis, sometimes three times a week.

“Many meets we originally planned were canceled, so we’ve adapted and found new places to compete at. Our training and practice schedule was changing on a regular basis.”

Practicing during a pandemic required constant change.

“During the worst of the pandemic, we practiced in small groups at different times,” he said. “Even though we basically lived in a bubble and got tested weekly, people would yell at us if they saw us running around town in a big group.”

Depenbusch won a 1,600-meter 5A state title and finished runner-up in the 5A state cross country championship. He credits his training with Great Bend coach Lyles Lashley for adjusting easily to the Division 1 level.

“My high school training helped prepare me for college. Coach Lashley gave me quality training that pushed me to get better,” he said. “His training plans often resembled collegiate training plans rather than high school training. A considerable amount of the drills, exercises, and strength training that we use at KSU had been taught in Great Bend by coach Lashley.” 

In the 2020 indoor season, Depenbusch ran season bests (4:26.12) at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational and (8:44.83) in the 3,000M at the Razorback Invitational.

In the 2020 cross country season, he grabbed the top spot for K-State at the OSU Invite with a pace of 25:00.8. He earned a top-10 finish at the Bob Timmons Classic with a personal best 6K (18:51.4).