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GBHS Track's Cliff Burt to retire following state meet
spt th CliffBurt
Burt to retire - photo by Travis Hendryx

You can measure success for a high school and youth sports coach in a lot of different ways; number of state champions, number of athletes continuing their career in college with a scholarship and, most of all, having a positive impact on an adolescent’s development. Cliff Burt exemplifies all of those categories and then some. A track coach in Great Bend for the past 35 years, 20 at the high school level, coach Burt has left his mark on the shot and discuss rings that will never be matched.

Burt will watch the sun set on an exceptional 40-year career following this weekend’s state track and field championships.

When he wasn’t coaching at the high school level, he was coaching his sons and others with the Great Bend Lightning Bolts or coaching at the middle school/junior high level.

Burt was a two-time state champion in 1970 and 1971 and still the Great Bend High School record holder in the shot. Ultimately, though, his greatest impact was in coaching the youth of Great Bend. At the high school level, he guided 13 state championships, 35 total medalists and 58 state final finishes. Do the math and that’s an average of three state finalists and nearly two top three finishes per year over the past 19 years at the high school leve and in only four events. With this year’s state championships coming up and three state qualifiers there will likely be more added to the final tally.

For many high school age athletes, the dream is to compete at the college level and many have gone on to do that. Great Bend throwers that competed under Cliff went on to compete at Kansas State, Pittsburg State, Arizona State, Princeton, Emporia State, Wichita State, University of Oklahoma and more.

“I am very fortunate to have had coach Burt be a part of my life,” said David Marcum. “He taught me a lot but most importantly he taught me how to be a competitor. My senior year in high school we had three of the top throwers in the state. Coach Burt challenged all of us in practice and this made us all better throwers in the end.”

“I was honored to learn from his many years of experience, knowledge, and wisdom,” said Jacy Quade. “Throughout my four years of high school, he helped me achieve things I could only dream of as I was growing up. He taught me what it really takes to be a successful thrower. It’s not just about being the strongest person in the ring; it takes so much more than that, like dedication, determination, commitment, will-power and strength, both physically and mentally.”

“This man showed his athletes that success does not come without discipline and dedication every single day,” said Trenton Olivier. “His work ethic inside and outside of practice gave me the desire to push myself harder to see what I was capable of. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without coach Burt.

Former athlete Robin Opie added, “Without his help and the extraordinary investment he made in me I would likely have lived a very different life. I would not have been accepted into the university I attended.  I would not likely have landed in the career that I enjoy so much.  And, I would most certainly have lived with a different and less confident and healthy view of myself.”

Burt coached seventeen total athletes to the finals at the state level, many more state qualifiers and many more beyond that.


1975- 1980: Baptiste Jr. High in Kansas City; Track and Football Assistant Coach
1980 – 1986: Harrison Jr. High; Track Head Coach
1980 – 1986: Great Bend High School; Football Assistant Coach
1986 – 1990: Great Bend High School; Track Head Throwers Coach
1990 – 1998: Great Bend Lightning Bolts
1999 – 2001: Great Bend Middle School Track and Field
2001 – 2015: Great Bend High School; Track Head Throwers Coach

2x State Champion in the Shot Put – At one time held the state track meet record.
Still holds the Great Bend High School shot put record

40 years of coaching
35 years coaching in Great Bend
20 years coaching high school track in Great Bend
13 state championships (5 different athletes)
35 top three finishes (12 different athletes)
Averaged nearly 2 top three finishes per year (1.84)
58 top six finishes (17 different athletes)
Averaged better than 3 top six finishes per year (3.05)


Boys’ Shot Put
5. Cliff Burt, 52’ .5”

Boys’ Shot Put
1. Cliff Burt, 58’ 8.5” (Record at the time)

Boys’ Discus
3. Cliff Burt, 154’ 3”

Boys’ Shot Put
1. Cliff Burt, 60’ 6.25” (Record at the time)

Boys’ Discus
4. Cliff Burt, 159’ 9”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Kristina Johnson, 40’ 9.5”

Girls’ Discus
1’ Kristina Johnson, 133’ 3”

Boys’ Shot Put
5. David Marcum, 50’ 0”

Boys’ Discus
5. Brad Harris, 148’ 2”

Girls’ Shot Put
6. Michelle Wondra, 34’ 6.5”

Boys’ Shot Put
4. David Marcum, Great Bend 52’ 7”
5. Robin Opie, Great Bend 51’ 10”

Boys’ Discus
2. Brad Harris, 171’ 9”

Boys’ Shot Put
2. Robin Opie, 59’ 3”
3. Brad Harris, 56’ 1.5”
4. David Marcum, 54’ 9.5”

Boys’ Discus
2. Robin Opie, 168’ 7”
4. Brad Harris, 157’ 10”

Boys’ Shot Put
1. Brad Harris, 57’ 3.25”

Boys’ Discus
2. Brad Harris, 163’ 8”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Cayci Carter, 41’ 5”

Girls’ Discus
2. Cayci Carter, 122’ 2”

Boys’ Discus
2. Trenton Olivier, 166’ 10”

Girls’ Shot Put
5. Holly Nelson, 36’ 4.75”

Girls’ Discus
3. Holly Nelson, 118’ 8”

Boys’ Shot Put
2. Trent Olivier, 56’ 5”

Boys’ Discus
5. Trent Olivier, 154’ 0”

Boys’ Shot Put
2. Garrett Gretz, 54’ 3.25”
6. Matt Hiss, 50’ 5.75”

Boys’ Discus
4. Garrett Gretz, 149’ 9”

Girls’ Shot Put
5. Larissa Richards, 37’ 6”

Girls’ Discus
6. Larissa Richards, 123’ 0”

Boys’ Shot Put
4. Garrett Gretz, 55’ 1.25”

Boys’ Discus
4. Garrett Gretz, 163’ 6”

Girls’ Shot Put
2. Larissa Richards, 4I’ 4.5”

Girls’ Discus
1. Larissa Richards, 135’ 10”
3. Kaitlyn Wagle, 119’ 10”

Girls’ Shot Put
3. Larissa Richards, 40’ 7.75”
4. Kaitlyn Wagle, 39’ 7.50”

Girls’ Discus
2. Kaitlyn Wagle, 132’ 1”
3. Larissa Richards, 114’ 5”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Alex Hartig, 45’ 1.5”
2. Larissa Richards, 43’ 7.25”

Girls’ Discus
1. Larissa Richards, 138’ 10”
2. Alex Hartig, 136’ 4”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Alex Hartig, 42’ 11”

Girls’ Discus
1. Alex Hartig, 142’ 9”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Alex Hartig, 43’ 4.75”

Girls’ Discus
1. Alex Hartig, 146 2”

Girls’ Shot Put
1. Alex Hartig,  46’ 2.5”

Girls’ Discus
1. Alex Hartig, 144’ 7”

Boys’ Shot Put
4. David Simmons, 49’ 8”

Girls’ Shot Put
5. Jacy Quade, 36’ 6.25”

Girls’ Discus
4. Jacy Quade, 123’ 1”

Boys’ Shot Put
4. David Simmons, 51’ 0”

Girls’ Shot Put
2. Jacy Quade, 38’ 7”

Girls’ Discus
3. Jacy Quade, 125’ 3”

Boys’ Shot Put
2. Jayce Brack, 55’ 1.25”

Boys’ Discus
5. Jayce Brack, 155’ 9”
6. Nick Warren, 155’ 4”

Boys’ Shot Put
2. Jayce Brack, 60’ 2”

Boys’ Discus
3. Jayce Brack, 170’ 2”
5. Nick Warren, 144’ 7”