The Kansas City track and cross country team is up and running this year as first-year Head Coach Benaut Shirley takes over the program.
Shirley has plenty of experience in track. He was a national champion in high school and continued to turn heads while running at the University of Kansas.
“I was a national triple-jump champion in Jamaica, and I competed at the Division I level in Kansas,” Shirley said. “I was a two-time, Big 12 champion.”
Shirley was a volunteer track coach at KU and eventually made his way to the coaching staff at UMKC, coaching jumps. In his 12th year coaching, Shirley has high expectations for the track program.
“The expectation is we show up, work hard and try to get better on a daily basis,” Shirley said. “Long-term, we want to be the best we can. We [will] transition from the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) to the Summit League, and long-term, we are looking to win Summit League titles. That’s the long-term goal, to have a top 25 program that’s going to go to the NCAA meets, indoors and outdoors, and score points.”
Shirley makes sure the team is working to meet these expectations every time they’re on the track. Off the field, Shirley is someone the athletes can come to with whatever they need.