ELLINWOOD — Lyles Lashley, Ellinwood High School's head cross country coach, was named Class 2A's Coach of the Year by the Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches' Association.
Lashley led the Ellinwood boys to a state championship, as well as leading the girls to finish as state runner up for the second straight year.
It was the first championship team that Lashley has coached in his 14 years.
"This group of guys reminded me of the guys I ran with in high school," Lashley said. "You named it, they did it. Whatever workout you wanted them to do, they did it. They wanted to do whatever it took to be a state champion. I am really proud of the guys.
"The thing with the girls is, everybody says, 'They're runnerup, oh,' but it is really an honor to be state runnerup two years in a row."
Lashley began his interest in cross country at Neville High School in Monroe, La., where he ran for a state championship team.
"I was fortunate to be a part of three really good teams in high school," Lashley said. "We were state runners up twice and state champions once, so I ran for a really good high school coach."
Lashley's high school coach, Dave Anderson, is his main influence.
"I learned a lot from that man," Lashley said. "Still do. My high
school coach has won numerous state championships in Louisiana, and I learned a lot from that guy. To this day, I still usually talk with him about once a week, and he even came up and watched the state meet this year.
"Everything I know about coaching, I learned from that guy."
Lashley originally went to school to become an engineer, but found that his passion was teaching.
"I really wanted to be a teacher," Lashley said. "I didn't want to be a coach at first. I was an engineering major for three years. My whole family are engineers, but I really didn't enjoy engineering very much.
"I would sit in math class and think, 'How would you teach this?' So, I thought I'd try teaching."
Lashley teaches math, science, religion and physical education for an assortment of grades at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Ellinwood.
Lashley has coached football and track and field for Larned, track and field and cross country for Barton Community College and also coached in Hitchcock, Texas bsefore settling in at Ellinwood.