The head coaching role for varsity cross country was passed to long-time assistant coach Ryan Hershner at the end of last school year. A regular presence on campus for over seven years, Hershner takes over from coach John Turek who has run the championship program since 1994 and takes on the assistant coach position, continuing to support Hershner and the sport.
“Coach Turek has taken immense pride and joy in supporting, mentoring and investing in Ryan, and they have formed a very strong bond through coaching our cross country and track and field teams together,” said Sean Lissemore, director of Athletics. “On the day that we informed Ryan he was going to take over as the cross country head coach, coach Turek handed him an inscribed baton that most fittingly represented the ‘passing of the baton’ and is symbolic of the strong trust and confidence he has in Ryan knowing that the future of the St. Mark’s cross country program is in great hands.”
A Division I college athlete at Kansas State, Hershner earned All-Big 12 honors in track and field and was captain of the cross country team. Since joining St. Mark’s in 2015 part-time, he has been an assistant coach for varsity cross country, basketball and track and field teams. Before taking on a full-time role last year, he served as an exercise physiologist at the Cooper Clinic.
“When I took on Ryan as an assistant coach in 2015, I immediately saw the future of the program,” Turek said. “Ryan carries the same level of commitment and passion as I do, and I see it every day as he leads the cross country program into a new era.”
Hershner has also created close relationships with his athletes, garnering praise and respect. His students have carried the lessons he taught beyond 10600 Preston Road and the race course.
“Oftentimes in running, you get caught up in times and recruiting standards and just quantitative things, but ‘Hersh’ always made sure to let us take a step back and just enjoy the sport for the simplicity of it,” said Sahil Dodda ’22, who is a freshman cross country and track athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. “I owe a lot to Hersh and his training methods, but most importantly and he’ll say the same thing, he’s made everyone he’s gotten close to a better person.”
Reflecting on his new role and the support he has received, Hershner said, “it obviously means a lot to take over a program from a coach like John Turek. He has had an incredible amount of success here and the goal is to continue what has been established.”
Turek will continue as head coach for varsity track and field where Hershner remains an assistant coach.