2022 MTCCCA Distinguished Coach Award Winners

The Missouri Track and Cross Country Coaches Association (MTCCCA) handed out awards at its annual clinic and awards dinner in December in Columbia. Five Missouri prep coaches were honored with the Charlie Finch Distinguished Coach Award.

The award is named after the former Webster Groves High School coach and MTCCCA Hall of Famer and it recognizes those who:

    - have shown uncommon commitment to our sport by many years of service

    - demonstrated excellence in our sport by the outstanding accomplishments of their athletes

    - have led with exceptional character and caring for athletes, and fellow coaches

The award proclaims honorees as being recognized as "distinguished" among their peers throughout the great state of Missouri. It notes honorees' "commitment, service, accomplishments, and character are both an inspiration and a model for fellow coaches and for the hundreds of athletes' lives you have touched and enriched."

Chris Scott - Kirkwood, SLUH, CBC, Berkeley, Riverview Gardens, Lafayette, John Burroughs
Longtime St. Louis area coach Chris Scott has coached multiple event groups including sprints, middle distance, and distance. Coach Scott is in his sixth year at Kirkwood, where he coaches the track and field boys' middle distance/distance group. Scott has previous coaching stops at John Burroughs, Lafayette, Riverview Gardens, Berkeley, CBC, and SLUH.

Scott guided the Pioneers to back-to-back 4x800 Class 5 state meet titles in 2018 and 2019. The 2019 4x800 squad won the title in an impressive 7:43.68. Kirkwood earned a state team trophy in 2018, tying for 3rd. Scott has helped coach 108 all-state athletes, 15 relay state champions, 5 team state championships, and numerous state trophy teams.

Kathy Burnett - Parkway Central
Longtime Parkway Central High School girls' track and field assistant coach Kathy Burnett has coached the Colts since the 1990s. She's mentored athletes in the jumps and hurdles, helping the Colts to numerous state team trophies and helping lead Parkway Central to a dominating win at the 2022 Class 4 state meet.

Burnett has coached numerous athletes to school records, as well as state meet qualifiers and all-state performers.

Head Coach Ryan Banta says Burnett has helped the Lady Colts to be a complete program and become a track AND field team. Burnett has also helped establish the standard that athletes not be just good on the track but in every aspect of the sport. Outside of her event specialty, she has had a critical role in establishing team expectations, organizing the program, and mentoring numerous coaches at Parkway Central. She advocates for athletes who may feel intimidated or not heard. Banta says she's a confidante, helping "other coaches navigate challenging situations that need another pair of eyes, a bigger heart, or a fresh perspective."

Jessica Ecker - Festus
Jessica Ecker has coached the throwing events for the Festus Girls track and field team for the last three years. In 2022 she coached three state qualifiers, who combined to qualify  in each of the three throwing events, including two in the shot put. Her athletes earned 4 All-Conference honors and 5 All-District honors in 2022. She mentored Kaila Roberts-Day to her 2nd straight shot put All-State finish, taking 3rd. Her athletes helped the Tigers win the conference and district team titles.

Bryant Wright - Festus
MTCCCA Hall of Famer Bryant Wright of Festus, who is known most for his athletes' accomplishments in cross country, including eight straight state team titles from 2014-2021, was honored for his athletes' track performances in the middle and distance events. Wright's work has helped the Tiger's to annual contention for state track and field trophies. He's guided the boys and girls to completely rewrite the distance school records while also adding to the state record books.

Wright guided Jacob Meyers to a rare sweep of the state meet distance events in 2022. In the Class 4 state meet, Meyers won the 800, 1600, and 3200-meter races, while also anchoring the winning 4x800 squad, the Tigers 3rd straight state title in the event. The feat helped the Tigers to a 3rd-straight team trophy. Head Coach Wes Armbruster says Wright is a resource and mentor to the entire staff and is leaving a legacy of excellence at Festus, where he excelled as a runner during his high school days.

Adam Gross - Farmington
Gross has been an assistant coach for Farmington for 15 years, coaching the boys and girls high school and middle school cross country and track and field teams. Head coach Jordan Stone lauded Gross for the number of responsibilities he has taken on. 

Stone added Gross has opted to stay at Farmington as an assistant, despite opportunities to take head coaching jobs elsewhere. Stone said Gross' dedication and commitment have been a reason for the Knights' recent success.

Stay tuned for more from the MTCCCA clinic in the days ahead.