Coach Gumb has served Bison well

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Look at the top of the Nebraska Class B relay charts, and you will see why the McCook schools hate to see John Gumb retire as the boys' track coach.

At the mid-point of the season -- two weeks before districts -- the McCook Bison 400- and 1600-meter relay teams are both ranked number one in the state in Class B.

A full step ahead of their nearest competitors, the Bison 400-meter team has posted a time of 43.2 seconds, while the 1600-meter relay team has a best time of 3 minutes and 26.6 seconds.

The runners on both teams are the same: seniors Kyle Bedore and Trent Lyons, junior Derek Ruppert and sophomore Brendan Liess. Not only is the foursome blessed with speed, but the sprinters share the hallmark of Gumb-coached relay teams: their technique, especially on handoffs, is outstanding.

Besides leading the way in Class B, the Bison are high in the all-class state standings as well. In this week's all-class rankings, only one 400-meter team, Lincoln High, has a better time, and that was by a mere two-hundredth of a second. In the 1600-meter relay, McCook stands third in the all-class rankings behind only Bellevue West at 3:24.9 and Omaha North at 3:25.13.

McCook's high standing in the relays, while noteworthy, is not unusual for a Gumb-coach team. Since taking over as the Bison sprints and relay coach, Gumb's 400-meter relay teams have qualified for state 23 out of the past 24 years. And, in five different years, the Bison have finished as the first place 400-meter relay team in the Class B state meet.

But, Gumb's contributions to McCook's track program go far beyond relay events. In his years with the program -- first as an assistant and later as the head coach -- the Bison boys have won two state Class B championships, in 1982 and 1999, and have finished as runner-up three times: in 1980, 1987 and 1989. Throughout those years, he has also served as a football assistant, concentrating on defense, and has taught a full load of math classes at McCook High School.

Because of his life-long interest in athletics, starting in the Fremont public schools and continuing at Midland College in Fremont, Coach Gumb plans to stay involved in sports in the years to come. "I'll be involved in some way, even if it's free gratis as a volunteer assistant," he said. He's going to take a brief break to rest up from a schedule that included six math classes, as well as weekend and nightly responsibilities as a football and track coach. "It was wicked at times," he said.

But, his diligence has been a great contributor to McCook's sports success, as many of the athletes he coached achieved individual and team championship honors.

What's next? For sure, there will be more time for his family, which includes wife Nancy, and daughters, Julie and Erin. And, come fall, the community is hoping a way can be found to use John's coaching talent and his interest in athletics.

McCook's youth have been served well by John's leadership ability. We wish him the best as he prepares to embark on his active retirement years.

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