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NEWS: Coach Art Siemers to Leave Colorado State

On Wednesday, Colorado State announced that distance coach Chris Siemers, a 10-year veteran of the program, was stepping away the team. According to the press release, the move stems from Siemers' wife, Erica, accepting a job at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Siemers' departure from Colorado State mirrors a similar move seen by former Northern Arizona coach Eric Heins who left the Lumberjacks in 2016 to also follow his wife who was pursing a new career opportunity. Heins is now the distance coach at Louisville.

The Jack Christiansen Invitational, which is set to take place this weekend, will be Siemers' final home meet with the Rams, although based on the language of Colorado State's press release, it is expected that Siemers will leave the program after this outdoor track season.

It feels almost poetic that Siemers' announced departure from Colorado State came on the same day as Jay Wright, the long-time head coach of Villanova basketball, making his retirement public.

And while Siemers isn't necessarily retiring, his departure does force us to evaluate (and appreciate) what he has accomplished as a coach.

Arguably one of the best developers of distance talent in the country, Siemers helped Colorado State evolve into one of the best distance running programs in the country. He developed numerous top-level long distance stars, put together surprisingly great varsity lineups and shattered expectations.

In 2017 and 2018, Siemers stunned the nation by having his men's cross country team earn back-to-back top-10 finishes at the NCAA XC Championships, earning a 9th place finish during each attempt.

However, some results don't always tell the full story. That 2018 team didn't have one of their top scorers in Cole Rockhold for the national meet. And yet, despite losing both him and three other top-tier scorers from their 2017 lineup, the Rams still finished amongst the best of the best.

And that result is the best way to explain why Siemers is, without question, one of the most impactful distance coaches the the Mountain region has ever seen.

Individually, men like Cole Rockhold (a versatile All-American), Jerrell Mock (a long distance specialist who ran 28:11 for 10k), Grant Fischer (a 28:45 (10k) and 13:44 (5k) runner), Eric Hamer (an All-American star who ran 13:29 (5k) and 27:44 (10k)) and Jacob Brueckman (who just ran 3:39 for 1500 meters) have all made fairly significants impacts in the NCAA or have run nationally competitive times.

Of course, the men's team is not the only group that has benefitted from Siemers' introduction to Colorado State as the school's distance coach. The Colorado State women have also benefitted from the training and the development that we've seen from Siemers and his respective assistant coaches.

During the winter cross country season of 2021, which was essentially making up for the 2020 cross country season being cancelled by the pandemic, the Colorado State women earned a surprise at-large bid for the NCAA Winter XC Championships, their first national cross country qualification since 2009.

Not only that, but when you look at Colorado State's all-time top-20 women's lists for indoor and outdoor track, you'll find that in 2022 alone, the Rams produced...

  • The top-two women's mile times in school history

  • Three of the top-10 women's 3k times in school history

  • The top-three women's indoor 5k times in school history

  • The second-best women's outdoor 800 meter time in school history

  • The top women's 1500 meter time in school history

  • Six of the top-seven women's outdoor 5k times in school history

  • The top-two women's 10k times in school history

  • Five of the top-13 women's steeplechase times in school history

To put it simply, the Colorado State women have only begun to realize their true potential.

In terms of next steps, it's not yet clear who will take over Siemers' coaching position. However, the next logical option, on paper, would be assistant distance coach Andrew Epperson.

An alumnus of Colorado School of Mines, Epperson has been with the Rams as an assistant distance coach since 2017. Before then, he was an assistant distance coach at Colorado Mines, working alongside coach Chris Siemers, the brother of Art Siemers.

Epperson is a 2:13 marathoner who represented the United States at the 2019 World Championships.


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