Becher's Passion For His Sport
Helps Hutch Track And Field
Reach New Heights
Pat Becher knew quite early in his life he wanted to coach track and field.
So upon taking the job at Hutchinson Community College in 1985, imagine his reaction when he saw “old” Gowans Stadium and its cinder track.
“I came from Moore High School and the finest track facility in high school in the state of Oklahoma. And when I drove in (to Hutchinson) and my heart just dropped when I saw Gowans Stadium,” Becher recalled. “I really wanted to coach junior college, so I thought I could make it work.”
For some 34 years, Becher continued to make it work for the Blue Dragons. After raising the bar for his program numerous times, Becher is part of the Hutchinson Community College Quarterback Club Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
The fact that track and field isn’t a mainstream sport with the exception of Olympic years, that didn’t deter the Oklahoma native from pursuing his dream of becoming a track coach.
“I had an outstanding high school track coach and program and I had a great P.E. teacher that I thought was outstanding, too,” Becher said. “Those two people had such a influence in my life that I knew that’s what I wanted to do, coach track and teach P.E. It’s turned into a career.”
As the leader of the Blue Dragon program, Becher coached 25 individual NJCAA national champions, 27 NJCAA national runners-up and has coached more than 1,000 track and field All-Americans.
Not every coach can say that he coached a future Olympian. Becher can.
The most famous Blue Dragon track and field athlete under Becher’s watch is 1988 NJCAA decathlon national champion Steve Fritz, who placed fourth in the decathlon at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
“He’s a good person. He’s great with people,” Fritz said of his junior college coach. “When you are talking about a junior college program where people are in and out in two years, there’s so many new people that you have to be great with people and build and maintain relationships. He’s great with working with people and he’s great at connecting with people.”
Becher has always had several athletes each season have a lot of success, but from 2011 to 2013, those successes came at the team level, too.
The 2013 season was especially gratifying for Becher as all his men’s team did was win the Jayhawk West indoor title for the first time and then sweep the league and Region VI championships a few months later. That was Hutchinson’s third-straight Jayhawk West outdoor championship and back-to-back Region VI outdoor championships. The 2013 Blue Dragons went on to finish fourth at the 2013 NJCAA National Outdoor Championships at Gowans Stadium, the team’s best finish since 1976.
The 2012 Blue Dragon men’s outdoor team captured both a second-straight Jayhawk West championship and the program’s first Region VI championship since 1996. The 2011 Blue Dragons won the conference for the first time since 1996.
The 2011 NJCAA Championships may go down as one of Becher’s favorites as he watched John Talbert capture national championships in the hammer throw and discus. Talbert captured the hammer national championship on his final throw.
One of the reasons for that success is that the Blue Dragons have the “new” Gowans Stadium to train in and compete at. Because of Gowans, Hutchinson Community college has played host to the 2007, 2013 and 2018 Region VI outdoor championships. Becher was one of the championship directors of the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“Because of the stadium and being able to have those events here, I’m very proud to be able to give back to the community and to the sport that have been very good to me,” Becher said. “We’ve always had a great history here and I’m glad I’ve been able to maintain that.”
Hutchinson track has also produced more than 150 Academic All-American's in the past 17 years, including two No. 2 Women’s Academic All-America teams of the year and two men’s Academic All-America team of the year and five more teams in the top five.
In addition to his successes on the track,
In 2003, 2007 and 2013, Becher was named Men’s National Track and Field Coach of the year. He has served as President of the NJCAA Track Coaches Association and has served as the group’s vice-president three times. He has been president of the Region VI Coaches Association three times.
He has been named Region VI Track Coach of the Year nine times, and nominated three times previously for National Coach of the year. Becher has also served as a meet official for the prestigious Kansas Relays.
In 2017, Becher was inducted into the NJCAA Coaches Association Hall of Fame.