Randy Bryan is stepping down from coaching track and cross country at Magazine High School.
Bryan has been with the track team for three decades and launched the school’s cross country program in 1999.
During an athletic awards ceremony last Monday night seniors prepared a goodbye message for their coach, who is also the school’s principal.
“I had a talk with them at the beginning of the season, and then I had a talk with them right before district and state (meets),” said Bryan.
In a 31-year coaching span — 30 at his alma mater — Bryan coached Magazine to three state titles, one each in boys and girls and one in boys indoor, which was in February of this year.
“The thing that may be more impressive than that is 11 third place finishes for which you get no hardware,” said Bryan.
In a sport where gold, silver, and bronze medals are routinely handed out to the top three finishers.
Again, two of those third place finishes came in his last season with the Lady Rattlers third in the state 2A indoor meet in February and the boys third in the 2A meet in England on April 30.
Bryan’s teams won 59 district titles. That number represents both junior high and senior high and both cross country and track.
Breaking them down is something Bryan could, but doesn’t want to do.
“You build a team, you build camaraderie so I’ve always had all my teams working together. That’s why we took pictures of everybody together (after the award ceremony),” said Bryan. “I think that’s how you build a culture — it’s ‘us.’”
The league titles came when Magazine was grouped with schools like Johnson County Westside while Bruce Dunlap was winning a couple of state titles and three runners-up.
Other conference foes have included Quitman for a couple of cycles, including a title year run.
“In the early years Danville was really, really, really powerful when we were in there with them,” said Bryan.
Bryan insists he loves all the kids who have been in the programs, but also has no trouble identifying a catalyst for a long run of success.
“Josh Scott was the best leader I’ve ever had,” said Bryan. “He oozes it and kids want to follow him, and work with him, and be around him. That’s who he was as the captain of my teams and everybody was willing to get after it. That was the start of being good all the time.
“Before the Josh Scott years we weren’t great at the state level, we were district runner-up, even below.”
It was also Scott, who today is the highest ranking Logan County Deputy Sheriff, and whose son, Tatum, qualified for four events in the state meet, who made the request to start cross country.
However Scott’s Friday night football efforts prevented him from actually running.
Cross country, Bryan notes, may be even more difficult in a schools the size of Magazine.
“In a small school you really only have so many true distance runners,” he said. “The rest of them are just doing it so you’ll have a team.”
His own daughters, Brittany and Courtney, fit into that group.
Bryan has had seven athletes go on to compete on the college level, including Roy Carey, Katie (Carter) Chambers, Brittany Bryan, Keith Runyon, Travis Williams, Churxa Yang and Shelby Gordon, who later ran the Boston Marathon.
“I’ve had a load more who could have if they wanted to. I had colleges contact me about a high jumper and he told me I want to get my degree in four years and go out and do what I want to do,” said Bryan.
The program, Bryan says, is the athletes.
“I’ve had lots of great kids. The kids are what made the program,” Bryan said. “I just added workouts to it and taught them a thing or two. Great hard working kids at the core of it.”
Along the way there have been 71 individual state champions and 127 All State athletes.
Bryan almost became emotional Monday night during his last athletic award ceremony but, he said, “I was able to to reign it in. I’ve been practicing a week to make sure I didn’t lose it. My story telling at the award ceremony is done.”
Bryan’s departure leaves the program in the hands of Ryan Chambers, who was on the 2012 boys state title team, Beau Skies and Bryan’s brother, Brandon.
Brandon Bryan is a volunteer assistant who said last week he expects to stay on board for at least two more years.
Brandon Bryan has also had three daughters make their way through the program and currently has a son who completed his sophomore season on the team.