Godfrey Named Head Cross Country Coach

MANHATTAN, Kan. – A multiple conference coach of the year at North Dakota State, Ryun Godfrey has been named Kansas State’s head cross country and track and field assistant coach. Godfrey, who has led his teams to a combined 30 conference titles as a head coach, will join the Wildcats after spending the past 14 seasons as the head women’s track and field and cross country coach at NDSU.  

“Coach Godfrey is an outstanding coach. We feel very fortunate to have attracted a coach of his ability,” K-State Head Track and Field Coach Cliff Rovelto said. “He has been awarded National Coach of the Year awards at the Division II level and numerous regional coaching awards at the Division I level. He has done a tremendous job at developing middle distance runners in particular, but has developed cross country teams and long sprinters to the national level as well. Philosophically, we see him as an ideal fit in our program at K-State.” 

Godfrey replaces former cross country head coach Mike Smith, who was named head track and field and cross country coach at the U.S. Military Academy this past week. He is excited to join the K-State Athletics family, where he, along with his duties as head of the cross country program, will coach the mid-distance runners.  

“Coach Rovelto, his staff and K-State Athletics have an outstanding reputation and I’m really excited to be a part of it, it’s an honor for me, and I am really looking forward to getting started,” Godfrey said. “I’m just driven to trying to keep pushing the limits. I think one of things we’ve done here [at North Dakota State] is that you see a certain amount of success then you re-evaluate and find out how you complete the next step forward so that has been kind of engrained in me. And, professionally, this is a great opportunity for me to take another step forward and continue to challenge myself.”

During his time at North Dakota State, Godfrey, who specialized in the sprints/mid-distance/distance events, has amassed an impressive resume that most recently included a sweep of the 2014 indoor and outdoor U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region Women’s Coach of the Year honors – one of only four women’s coaches to accomplish such a feat this past season. He was also named the Summit League Women’s Coach of the Year in cross country and indoor track and field, a honor he has won a combined 17 times including sweeping the award each of the last three years.

The women’s team dominated competition in 2014, claiming the Summit League “Triple Crown” by sweeping the league’s cross country, indoor and outdoor team championships for a third consecutive year (11-12, 12-13, 13-14). His cross country team, in particular, excelled, capturing its third-consecutive Summit League title this past season, buoyed by Summit League Athlete of the Year, Brecca Wahlund, and four total first team all-league selections helping the Bison win the title by 22 points.  

On the national level, Godfrey brought the women’s track and field program to prominence this past season with his athletes accumulating five total entries in the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships – including the 4x400 relay team that earned second team honors both indoors and outdoors.

Said Athletics Director John Currie, “We are excited to welcome coach Godfrey to the Wildcat family, and I salute coach Rovelto for identifying him as the right fit for K-State. Coach Godfrey is highly regarded by administrators and fellow coaches alike for his solid Midwest values and technical skills. His resume at North Dakota State includes four cross country conference championships and 14 straight women’s indoor and outdoor league titles and provides him great experience and credibility as he assumes leadership of our distance programs.”

Head coach of the Bison’s men’s team, Don Larson, has played a major role in Godfrey’s rise in the Division I coaching ranks. In his now 35th year with the program, Larson coached Godfrey as an undergraduate at North Dakota State and had him as a part of his staff as a graduate assistant in 1998-99 before the latter took over the women’s team in 1999. 

“Ryun’s career has clearly blossomed [since taking over as head women’s coach] and I give him a tremendous amount of credit,” Larson said. “For his work ethic, his knowledge and he’s an amazing person to work with in all facets of the sport of track and field and cross country. We’re extremely excited for him, knowing that he has had aspirations of moving on and accepting new challenges.

“[K-State] got a great one.”

Since joining the Division I Summit League in 2007, the Bison’s women’s team has consistently found success in conference competition. The women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor squads have combined to claim 17 Summit League Championships, including all 14 indoor and outdoor league titles during that span.
In total, student-athletes under Godfrey’s watch have combined for 191 All-Summit League selections and 116 All-Summer League individual titles spanning across three different sports – cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. 

At the NCAA Championship-level since 2009, 11 Bison women have combined to claim 15 total Division I All-America citations with three of those All-Americans being coached directly by Godfrey in the 800 meters. In fact, Godfrey’s squads has had at least one NCAA qualifier in the five of the last six seasons both indoors and outdoors. Overall, Godfrey’s 14 seasons at NDSU have seen the Bison earn All-American recognition a total of 19 times.

Speaking on behalf of the Bison’s Athletics Department, Director of Women’s Athletics Lynn Dorn said Godfrey’s contributions to the program have been immeasurable.

“We congratulate Ryun on his opportunity at K-State, as it is well-deserved on many levels,” Dorn said. “He’s been exceptional as a leader of the student-athletes at North Dakota State University in the classroom and in the field. The individual accolades of the program and the accolades of the program that have been garnered under his leadership are immeasurable, including team and individual accomplishments. Ryun Godfrey is an incredible professional, who we, for his services and for his leadership, have been indebted.

“On behalf of the athletics department, we wish him the very best at K-State.”

During Godfrey’s tenure, student-athletes have also found success in the classroom, with the women’s team totaling 37 Academic All-American accolades since 1999. Most notably, Whitney Carlson, a 16-time Summit League Champion and three-time Summit League Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year, was awarded the NCAA Elite 88 Award in 2011 – given to student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade-point average in his or her respective sport’s championship. 

Outside of collegiate competition, Godfrey’s athletes have experienced considerable success with 10 Bison athletes having competed at the USA Championships, including four that have competed at the Olympic Trials. Former Bison Amanda (Thieschafer) Smock, in particular, represented the United States at the London Olympic Games in the triple jump, while, most recently, current Bison Leslie Brost was the highest finishing collegiate athlete at the 2012 Olympic Trials in the pole vault. 
Before joining the Bison staff as a graduate assistant during the 1998-99 school year, Godfrey, who graduated with a degree in physical education, was an All-North Central Conference performer and a member of seven NDSU league champion track and field squads.

He is the son of Vic and Ruth Godfrey of Watertown, South Dakota. Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Godfrey grew up in Bahrain, where his father, a South Dakota track and field coaching legend with over 50 years of experience, was the country’s Olympic coach for 12 years.

Godfrey is expected to join the Wildcat program early next week, before traveling with the cross country team to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Chili Pepper Festival on Oct. 4.