Head Coach Cliff Rovelto
Under the direction of Cliff Rovelto, the Kansas State track and field program has not only experienced a consistent stream of success, but has also established itself as a force among fellow elite programs in the nation. In 2013-14, Rovelto begins his 22nd season as the head coach at Kansas State and his 26th at the school overall.
- Eight-time Team USA team staff member
- Five-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year
- 2001 USTCA Women's Outdoor National Coach of the Year
- 2001 & 2002 Big 12 Conference Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year
- USA Track & Field Master Coach - Jumps
- 1993-present Head Coach, Kansas State
- 1992-1993 Interim Head Coach, Kansas State
- 1988-92 Assistant Coach, Kansas State
- 1987-88 Head Women's Coach, Kansas
- 1983-87 Women's Cross Country Coach & Assistant Track Coach, Kansas
- 1981-83 Men's Graduate Assistant, Kansas
- 1979-81 Head Track & Cross Country Coach, McLouth (Kan.) HS
Contact Coach Rovelto
The steady progression of the K-State program culminated in 2001 with Rovelto being honored by his peers as the women’s outdoor National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track Coaches Association.
During his tenure, he has led Kansas State to back-to-back Big 12 Conference women's outdoor team championships in 2001 and 2002 and has earned consecutive Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors, giving him five such honors in his 21 seasons as the Wildcats' head coach. Prior to the start of the 2005 season, Rovelto earned the United States Women’s Track and Field College Coaches Award for Service at the USA Track and Field Convention. Rovelto was nominated by his peers and selected by the officers of USA Track and Field as the 2007 recipient of the John Bennett Decathlon Award.
K-State’s women earned their best finish ever at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing fifth. Kansas State's pair of Big 12 Conference women’s outdoor team championships was the second and third team titles won by any Wildcat athletic team since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996. The other was a women’s cross country team title in 1998.
K-State’s men outdoor and indoor teams have excelled as well under Rovelto. Including a third place finish in indoor and a fourth place finish in outdoor at the respective Big 12 Championships for the 2012-2013 season. The men’s track and field squad has finished a combined 18 times (nine each) in the top-5 in conference championship play since Rovelto began coaching in 1992. Along with strong conference play, last season marked the first time since 1939 that the men have finished in the top-25 in the NCAA Championships for three years straight.
In 1999-2000, the Kansas State women had one of the best combined seasons in all of collegiate track and cross country. The cross country team placed a school-best fifth at the NCAA Championship, while the indoor team was seventh nationally and the outdoor squad was 11th in the team standings at the NCAA Championships. In 2010-11, the women’s programs again had an impressive showing. Cross country finished 25th while the team finished 45th indoors and 13th outdoors. The Wildcats were one of a handful of programs to score at all three NCAA Championship meets to rank them 11th in the Terry Crawford Program of the Year Standings.
Since becoming the head coach in November of 1992, the men’s and women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field programs have earned 196 All-American certificates and 125 individual conference championships. Over his 25 seasons at K-State, Rovelto has personally directed 56 individuals to 136 NCAA All-America certificates, as well as 54 individuals to 82 conference event championships.
The success Rovelto has cultivated at Kansas State has propelled him onto the international coaching stage with the United States Track and Field Association eight times.
An internationally recognized authority in combined events who helped write and teach the curriculum for the U.S. combined events coaching education program, Rovelto is a Level II combined event instructor, and is one of two coaches in the U.S. to coach multiple combined event athletes to over 8,000 points in the decathlon and 6,000 points in the heptathlon.
In 2005, Rovelto’s international assignment was as an assistant for the Team USA at the 2005 World Track & Field Championships. He served as the women’s jumps and combined events coach at the games in Helsinki, Finland. He also served as the men’s assistant coach for the 2007 World Track & Field Championships in Osaka, Japan. He most recently served as the men’s head coach for Team USA at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2011.
He has also served as head coach of the U.S. Decathlon Team in dual meets with Germany in 1997 and 2003. He also was named to the U.S. coaching staff for the 2002 World Cup and the 2003 World Outdoor Championships in Paris. In 2010 Rovelto was on the staff for American’s Team for the IAAF Continental Cup held in Split, Croatia.
Full Coach Cliff Rovelto Bio
MICHAEL SMITH -- Assistant Coach Middle Distance / Head Cross Country Coach
Michael Smith is entering his 20th year as a member of the track and field coaching staff at K-State and 10th year at the helm of the men's and women's cross country teams. Since arriving in Manhattan in 1994, Smith has played an integral role in the success of the K-State cross country and track & field teams in the Big 12 Conference and at the NCAA Championships. During his tenure, the Wildcats have won three women’s team championships in the Big 12 conference (1998 cross country, 2001 and 2002 outdoor track and field), earned their highest ever women’s NCAA team finish in cross country (1999: 5th) and have had several top ten team finishes in men’s and women’s track and field.
Smith took over the reins of the cross country programs in 2004. In his nine years leading the men’s and women’s cross country teams he has guided four individuals (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012) and one team (2010 women) to the NCAA championships. 2012 marked the fifth consecutive NCAA Cross Country Championship where K-State was represented on the women’s side. Laura Galvan’s 7th place finish at the Midwest Regional Championship earned her an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships where she completed her outstanding sophomore season with a 45th place finish, just missing All-American honors while setting a 6km school record of 20:19.
In 2010, the women’s cross country team returned to the NCAA Championships by earning the last at large bid to the 31 team field. The Wildcats went on to finish 25th in their first team appearance since 2000. On the men’s side, Mathew Chesang’s 2004 senior cross country campaign was one of K-State's most outstanding individual cross country seasons in recent memory. Chesang finished third at the Big 12 Championships, second at the Midwest Regional Championships and capped off his senior season with an All-American performance at the NCAA Championships. Chesang's 12th-place finish was the highest NCAA placing for a Wildcat male since Jerome Howe's 10th place finish in 1971, and the first Wildcat men's cross country All-American since 1992.
As the assistant cross country coach at K-State from 1994-2004, Smith was instrumental in the success enjoyed by the women's and men's cross country teams. During that time period the K-State women won the 1998 Big 12 title in Lincoln, Neb., captured three consecutive Midwest Regional titles (1998, 1999, 2000) and garnered NCAA finishes of 13th, 5th and 10th (1998-2000). The Big 12 women's victory in 1998 was the only Big 12 cross country team title not won by the University of Colorado until Texas Tech’s win in 2008.
Under Smith's leadership on the track, the Wildcat mid-distance/distance group has launched a steady advance into the top 10 all-time performances of the K-State track and field record books. In doing so, Smith's athletes have won 16 conference championships, set 23 individual school records, earned 20 All-American certificates and set four Big 12 meet records. During his tenure, Smith has guided eight Wildcat men under 1:50 in the 800 meters, four of whom ran under 1:48. Six wildcat women have run faster than 2:07 under Smith’s guidance.
Full Coach Coach Smith Bio | Email Coach Michael Smith
GREG WATSON -- Assistant Coach - Throws
Greg Watson enters his first year as the throws coach of the Kansas State coaching staff after spending the past two seasons in the same capacity for the Texas State Bobcats.
During his two seasons at Texas State, Watson coached the Bobcats to multiple conference championships in two different conferences. This past season saw Watson's throwers claim two indoor conference titles and three outdoor titles at the Western Athletic Conference Championships. Two of his athletes were honored by the WAC as Kelsey Titzman was the Indoor and Outdoor WAC Field Performer of the Year and Darian Brown earned WAC Outdoor Field Performer of the Year honors.
In 2013, Watson coached five athletes to qualify for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds including Titzman, who advanced to the NCAA Championship in the women's shot put. Titzman would go onto to finish ninth at the championship meet. Two of his athletes also qualified for the 2013 USA Junior Championships, as Dasha Tsema finished third in the women's discus and Talore Kelly finished fourth in the women's hammer throw.
In all, Watson's time at Texas State included three conference championships, eight individual conference champions, three school records, three junior national qualifiers and one second-team All-American.
Outside of K-State coaching duties, Watson coaches current Wildcats' volunteer assistant, Amanda Bingson. Ranked sixth in the world, Bingson finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials under Watson's tutelage and placed 13th at the London Olympics. Most recently, Bingson won the women's hammer throw in June at the USA Championships while setting a new American record in the process with a mark of 75.73 meters (248-05).
Full Coach Watson Bio | Email Coach Greg Watson
KYLE HIERHOLZER -- Assistant Coach - Combined Events / Jumps / Sprints
Kyle Hierholzer is entering his eighth year at Kansas State. Since joining the staff in the summer of 2006, Hierholzer has primarily assisted head coach Cliff Rovelto in sprints, jumps and combined events. He has also served stints as the primary trainer for K-State pole vaulters, first from 2007-09 and most recently in 2012-13. Hierholzer will continue to focus on pole vaulters specifically for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
As the pole vaulting coach, Hierholzer experienced considerable success in the past two years. Most notably, senior pole vaulter Kyle Wait has had back-to-back terrific seasons under Hierholzer’s tutelage. In 2011-12, Wait won the first outdoor pole vault conference championship in men’s history for K-State and the first men’s pole vault title overall since 1981. This past year he followed up that performance with another outdoor conference championship title as well as First Team All-American honors in outdoor and Second Team All-American honors in indoor pole vault. Wait is the first Wildcat outdoor pole vaulter since Doug Lytle in 1981-82 to be a back-to-back All American in the event and only the second K-State pole vaulter to earn indoor All-American honors for the men’s team since 1966.
Along with Wait, K-State pole vaulters this past season had success both on and off the track. Senior Cameron Savage tied with Wait for third all-time in K-State history in the indoor pole vault with a jump of 5.20 meters (17-00.75). All four pole vaulters, Wait, Savage, Tommy Brady and David Taylor, earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors at the conclusion of this past season as well. In total for the pole vault, Hierholzer has coached two NCAA All-Americans, three NCAA finalists, five NCAA Regional qualifiers and four Big 12 scorers.
As an assistant under Rovelto, Hierholzer has helped the program garner numerous accolades in sprints, jumps and combined events. He has assisted in the coaching and the recruiting of three athletes to six NCAA titles, six athletes to eight indoor conference championships and six athletes to nine outdoor conference championships. K-State athletes have earned 23 indoor All-American nominations and 24 outdoor All-American nominations during this time.
Full Coach Hierholzer Bio | Email Coach Kyle Hierholzer
VINCENT JOHNSON -- Assistant Coach - Jumps / Sprints
Vincent Johnson is in his third year with Kansas State as the sprints and jumps coach and brings extensive experience coaching elite high school and club track and field athletes in Texas.
In his time at K-State, Johnson has helped in both recruiting and on the track. Johnson’s first year was highlighted by his part in helping the Wildcats land the No. 6 women’s recruiting class in the nation as ranked by Track & Field News.
This past season saw two athletes coached by Johnson excel in equally impressive fashion. On the men’s side, jumper Jharyl Bowry was the Big 12 Indoor Champion in the long jump, finishing 1-2 with fellow teammate Ifeanyi Otuonye. Bowry also earned USTFCCCA All-America First Team outdoor honors. For the women, sprinter Jasmine Gibbs broke the school record in the 60 meter dash in the Wildcat’s first indoor event of the season, K-State All-Comers. Her mark of 7.41 seconds bested the previous high of 7.46 seconds set in 1997 by Karissa Stewart.
Johnson’s athletes have seen tremendous individual success in addition to the state titles his teams have won. In particular, 2011 was an especially notable year as Johnson’s athletes’ accolades included international gold medals, a USA Junior Champion and athlete of the year awards. On the international level, Johnson coached sprinter Jennifer Madu to a gold medal in the 100 meters at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships in France and now-Wildcat Devin Field to a gold medal in the long jump at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships. In national competition, Field won the long jump title at the USA Junior Championships. Field and Madu were also named as both The Dallas Morning News Dallas-Fort Worth area and Texas Gatorade Track and Field Athletes of the Year.
Full Coach Johnson Bio | Email Coach Vincent Johnson
CANDACE PERRY-FAIRER -- Assistant Coach - Jumps/Sprints/Combined Events
Candace Perry-Fairer joins K-State Track and Field for her first year as an assistant to Coach Cliff Rovelto in the sprints, jumps and combined events.
"We are excited that Coach Perry-Fairer has joined our staff. I have known Coach Perry-Fairer for a few years and one of her mentors, Jerry Clayton, is a dear friend and truly one of our nation’s finest coaches,” Rovelto said. “She's had extensive experience as a Division I athlete, as well as, serving stints at two successful Division I university programs. I'm confident that she will be a tremendous help to me with the event groups I work with here at K-State."
Prior to joining the Wildcats, Perry-Fairer was an assistant track and field coach for the Tigers from 2008 to 2010 focusing specifically on horizontal jumps and multi-events for both the men’s and women’s teams. She was heavily involved with the recruiting process, both nationally and internationally, for Auburn and was responsible for administrative duties that included travel coordination, ordering and distributing equipment and coordinating summer track and field camps.
Perry-Fairer began her coaching career with Southeast Missouri State in 2007, where she spent one season as an assistant coach. She coached athletes in the long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault, while also designing training and weight programs for the student-athletes. Like Auburn, Perry-Fairer was also involved with the Redhawks’ recruiting. In her lone season with the Redhawks, Perry-Fairer coached two conference champions, an indoor NCAA qualifier and an outdoor NCAA Regional qualifier.
Full Coach Perry-Fairer Bio | Email Coach Candace Perry-Fairer