Head Coach Cliff Rovelto
Under the direction of Cliff Rovelto, the Kansas State track and field program has established itself as a force in America's heartland and regularly challenges some of the more established collegiate programs in the nation.
- Seven-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
In 2011-12, Rovelto begins his 20th season as the head coach at Kansas State and his 24th at the school overall.
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, has earned consecutive Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors, giving him five such honors 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 recipient of the 2007 John Bennett Decathlon Award.
K-State earned its 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 fans were treated to the best season in school history in 2011 as the men and women did something they had never done together -- finish in the Top 20. The men scored 16 points at the NCAA Outdoor Championship to finish 16th while the women posted 19 points and finished 13th. It was the first time since 1999 that both teams finish in the Top 25 together as well, and it marked the first time since 1986 the men and women each had an NCAA champion. High jumper Erik Kynard flew above the competition to claim his first NCAA crown, and Ryann Krais dominated the women's heptathlon from the second event on to also claim her first title. Jeffrey Julmis finished fourth in the 110 meter hurdles, and Moritz Cleve took eighth in the decathlon to help the men's team, Nina Kokot finished sixth in the long jump for the women. Krais also claimed third in the 400 meter hurdles to complete a rare double for the NCAA meet in two of the sport's most grueling events.
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 2011, the women's programs again had an impressive showing. The cross country team finished 24th while also finishing 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 180 All-American certificates and 114 individual conference championships. Over his 23 seasons at K-State, Rovelto has personally directed 51 individuals and one relay team to 122 NCAA All-America certificates, as well as 51 individuals to 73 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 most recently served as the men's head coach for Team USA at the Pan America 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.
Full Coach Cliff Rovelto Bio
MICHAEL SMITH -- Assistant Coach Middle Distance / Head Cross Country Coach
Michael Smith is entering his 18th year as a member of the coaching staff at K-State and sixth 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, he has helped establish the women's cross country team as a force on the national level. The Wildcats have won three women's championships in the Big 12 Conference, earned their highest ever women's NCAA team finish in cross country (5th).
In 2010, the women's cross country team returned to the NCAA Championship with an at-large bid finishing 25th, ahead of a number of teams ranked higher going into the race. In 2009, Smith guided Beverly Ramos to one of the best women's individual seasons in recent memory as Ramos received All-America honors. Ramos tallied two wins and also placed sixth at the Pre-NCAA Invitational, Big 12 Championship and NCAA Midwest Regional. Her finish at 33rd at the NCAA Championship made her the school's ninth All-American in cross country. Ramos helped guide the teamto another sixth-place finish at the 2008 Big 12 Championship and ninth at the Midwest Regional.
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, 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.
Smith took over the reins of the cross country programs in 2004 and guided Mathew Chesang to 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.
In 2009, Smith guided Beverly Ramos to one of the best women's individual seasons in recent memory as Ramos received All-America honors. Ramos tallied two wins and also placed sixth at the Pre-NCAA Invitational, Big 12 Championship and NCAA Midwest Regional. Her finish at 33rd at the NCAA Championship made her the school's ninth All-American in cross country. Ramos helped guide the team to another sixth place finish at the 2008 Big 12 Championship and ninth at the Midwest Regional.
Full Coach Coach Smith Bio | Email Coach Michael Smith
STEVE FRITZ -- Assistant Coach - Throws
Steve Fritz is a coach who can give Kansas State student-athletes a first-hand look at the experience of competing in track and field at the international level. Fritz, who is in his 20th season on the Wildcat staff, finished fourth for the U.S. in the decathlon in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He scored a career-best 8,644 points, and was just 20 points behind bronze medalist Tomas Dvorak. A member of the Kansas State Athletics Hall of Fame, Fritz was the U.S. national champion in the decathlon in 1997 and was fourth at the World Championships that same year. He also was a 10-time member of Team USA as an athlete.
As a coach, Fritz has directed 50 different student-athletes who have scored a combined 1,116 conference points, with 12 athletes winning conference titles a total of 25 times. On the national level, Fritz has had 18 NCAA qualifiers, nine USA National qualifiers, 12 Junior National qualifiers, one World University Games qualifier and one World Junior qualifier. Seven athletes at K-State have set school records in eight separate events a total of 38 times under his coaching.
Fritz has had eight All-Americans earn a total of 23 All-American certificates and has had at least one athlete qualify for nationals every year but one he has been coaching Kansas State. Under Fritz's guidance, the Wildcat women won every Big 12 indoor weight throw title and outdoor hammer title from 1997-99 and again from 2007-09. In the javelin, Fritz helped lead K-State to a sweep of men's and women's Big Eight titles in 1993 and 1994. Wildcat women won javelin titles in 1996, 1997 and 2002, in addition to continued success in the weight throw from 2006-09 with Loren Groves winning three straight herself. During K-State dominance in the women's weight throw, the Wildcats have won three consecutive and four consecutive Big 12 women's titles in the event. Only Nebraska has won multiple women's weight throw titles.
Fritz competed for Kansas State from 1989-90 and holds the Big Eight decathlon record with 7,924 points. He was a two-time NCAA All-American for the Wildcats in the decathlon, finishing sixth in 1989 (7,548 points) and fourth in 1990 (7,729 points).
He earned a bachelor's degree in business from K-State in 1993. While at Kansas State, Fritz also played basketball for two seasons. Fritz was a two-sport athlete in track and basketball at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. He won the decathlon at the 1988 National Junior College Athletic Association Nationals and hit the game-winning basket to give the Blue Dragons the 1988 NJCAA basketball title.
A native of Gypsum, Kan., Fritz is married to the former Suzie Wiemers. Suzie Fritz was named the head coach for volleyball at Kansas State in August 2001 and in 2003 led the Wildcats to their first Big 12 championship. The couple has two children: Thomas Jon (T.J.) and Jacob.
In addition to his coaching at K-State, Fritz has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2007 Thorpe Cup in Bernhausen, Germany, and most recently represented the Red, White & Blue at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Full Coach Fritz Bio | Email Coach Steve Fritz
KYLE HIERHOLZER -- Assistant Coach - Combined Events / Jumps / Sprints
Kyle Hierholzer is in his sixth year at Kansas State after joining the coaching staff during the summer of 2006 and continues his work with the sprint, jump and combined events disciplines.
In Hierholzer's first season with the Wildcats he assisted head coach Cliff Rovelto with the jumps and combined events student-athletes, including helping then-sophomore Adam Fretwell to a national qualification in the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Hierholzer began coaching the pole vaulters in 2008 and guided Nancy Harrington to increase her personal best mark by more than seven inches. Senior Bryce Bergman qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional along with Harrington for the Wildcats. Hierholzer also helped combined events specialist Moritz Cleve improve greatly in the pole vault helping contribute to his Big 12 Championship record score in the decathlon in 2009 and in winning the Big 12 heptathlon crown during indoor.
Hierholzer came to Manhattan after one season at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, as the assistant track and field/cross country coach. While at South Plains, Hierholzer coached all jumps and combined events. He coached a 2006 U.S. Junior champion in the men's long jump and 2006 World Junior finalist Aaron Smith in the long jump with a mark of 26-04 to finish fifth. He also coached NJCAA National Champions in the men's long jump and pole vault and women's triple jump. He also coached nine NJCAA All-Americans.
Prior to his stint at South Plains College, Hierholzer was a graduate assistant at Texas State University from 2003-05 and earned a master's degree in political science with a minor in international business. While earning his advanced degree, Hierholzer assisted the Bobcats to four Southland Conference titles and supervised the vertical jumps and combined events. He coached four Southland Conference champions in the high jump and a school record holder in the men's indoor heptathlon. He also coached Caroline Wolf to NCAA All-American status with a high jump of 6-00.25 as she finished fifth at the NCAA Championship and set a Texas State school record.
During his time as a student-athlete for the Bobcats from 1998-2003, he earned bachelor's degrees in finance and marketing. On the track, Hierholzer competed in the decathlon and hurdles and helped the Bobcats to four straight Southland Conference titles. The native of Boone, Texas, also was selected as a team captain three times.
Hierholzer holds a Level II certification in jumps from the USATF and recently attented the Junior Elite Decathlon Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to assist with coaching.
Full Coach Hierholzer Bio | Email Coach Kyle Hierholzer
VINCENT JOHNSON -- Assistant Coach - Jumps / Sprints
Vincent Johnson is in his first year with Kansas State and brings extensive experience coaching elite high school and club track and field athletes in Texas. He recently ended four years at Lancaster High School in Lancaster, Texas, where he served as an assistant coach and jumps coordinator and helped lead the team to four straight Texas Class 4A State Championships. While coaching in Lancaster, Johnson also founded and organized a jump specific club the Texas 'FACES' Track Club.
Prior to his time in Lancaster, Johnson spent one year at North Panola High School in Mississippi as the head coach to lay the foundation for a new track and field program at the school. Johnson also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Nacogdoches High School in Texas where he worked specifically with the sprinters and jumpers.
Johnson's athletes have seen tremendous individual success in addition to the state titles his teams have won. Most recently he coached the girls 100 meters champion at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships. This season he also coached both the male and female Dallas Morning News Track and Field Athlete of the Year. This season he also saw his athletes named male and female Texas Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year. At the USA Junior Championships he coached Devin Field to the long jump title with his leap of 7.53m (24-8.50).
"I am extremely grateful to be part of the Kansas State Family. The opportunity to work with a group that believes in the overall development of student-athletes is something that I enjoy and look forward to doing. I think we have an opportunity to be pretty successful in the near future and years to come," Johnson said. "The staff is very knowledgeable and we share similar training theories and principles. Furthermore, I really appreciate the opportunity K-State has given me to join the staff. I am going to find my niche and help in any capacity that yields a great outcome for the Wildcats."
Full Coach Johnson Bio | Email Coach Vincent Johnson
KAROL ROVELTO -- Assistant Coach/Director of Operations
Karol Rovelto is in her 10th season with the Kansas State track & field program and her seventh as director of operations. In the 2011-12 season she also will serve as an assistant coach for the Wildcats where she will help with high jump and combined events.
"Our program would not be what it is without Karol's efforts. Karol has enabled me to take most of the administrative duties off the plate of our assistant coaches enabling them to focus almost entirely on coaching and recruiting. Karol will continue in this role," Cliff Rovelto said. "It is her organizational abilities and work ethic which enables us to expand her role until we complete the process of restructuring our staff. Karol's experiences as a coach and elite athlete will be helpful to our student-athletes. As an Olympic high jumper and member of numerous national teams Karol will assist us with our high jumpers and large group of combined event athletes many of whom have limited background in the high jump."
Rovelto (formerly Damon) came to Kansas State after a three-year stint as an assistant track & field and cross country coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
In December of 1999, Rovelto left the Mocs program to concentrate full-time on preparations for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She won the U.S. Olympic Trials with a leap of 6-04.00 before posting the top American finish in Sydney. Rovelto's personal best is 6-05.50.
Full Coach Karol Rovelto Bio | Email Coach Karol Rovelto