By RICK PETERSON
Topeka West legend Joe Schrag garnered the No. 1 position on TopSports.news' Top 10 Best of the Best Shawnee County Coaches track and field list, adding the track honor after being named No. 1 on the cross country Top 10 earlier in the project.
Schrag coached Topeka West track and Field teams to Class 4A state team titles in the now defunct Kansas Indoor Championships in 1975 and 1976 and added Class 6A State Outdoor titles in 1983 and 1984.
Over his four decades at West Schrag finished with a total of eight state championships, including four state cross country titles.
Schrag is a member of the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame as well as the Kansas High School Activities Association, Kansas Relays, Topeka Shawnee County and Topeka West halls of fame.
Former Shawnee Heights coach Brad Nicks earned the No. 2 spot on the Best of the Best list after leading the T-Birds to 5A boys team titles in 2007 and 2015 and the girls team championship in 2009. Nicks' Heights teams finished second in the girls division in 2019 and was the boys runner-up in 2018 before he moved on to Abilene as head football and boys and girls track coach.
Former Seaman coach Claudia Welch, former Shawnee Heights coach Mike Nash and former Washburn Rural coach Jerry Beardslee round out the top five on the Best of the Best Top 10 list, with all three leading teams to multiple state championships.
Nicks earned the No. 1 spot in the Reader's Choice poll, receiving more than 800 votes, followed by former Highland Park and Topeka High coach Beau Caryl and Schrag in balloting by TSN readers.
A five-person panel of current and past sports media professionals with more than 150 years of combined experience met to help determine the final Best of the Best Top 10.
Hayden multi-time state champ Rick Strecker is No. 6 on the Best of the Best list, followed by former Seaman state champ Bob Camien, multi-time Rossville state champ Jason Broaddus, Caryl and former multi-time state champs Heavy Erwin and Jan Magnuson of Topeka High and Dixie Barb of Highland Park. Erwin, Magnuson and Barb share the No. 10 spot.
Here's a look at the Top 10 and Readers Choice Awards:
TSN TOP 10 BEST OF THE BEST TRACK AND FIELD COACHES
1. Joe Schrag -- Schrag coached Topeka West's boys to four state track and field championships during his 31-year career as the Chargers' head track coach, with West winning Class 6A outdoor championships in 1983 and 1984 and winning Class 4A indoor titles in 1975 and 1976. Schrag won eight state titles overall, adding four boys cross country championships. Schrag is a member of the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame as well as the Kansas High School Activities Association, Kansas Relays, Topeka Shawnee County and Topeka West shrines.
2. Brad Nicks -- The former Shawnee Heights coach led the T-Birds to Class 5A boys team titles in 2007 and 2015 and the girls team championship in 2009. Nicks' Heights teams finished second in the girls division in 2019 and was the boys runner-up in 2018. Nicks completed his second year at Abilene this past season, with Cowboy and Cowgirl athletes earning 25 state medals.
3. Claudia Welch -- Welch's Seaman girls teams were consistent state contenders in her long career, including Class 6A state team championships in 1985 and 1986 and a third-place state finish in 1984. Welch coached the Vikings to 10 regional and 10 Centennial League team titles. Seaman's annual invitational meet is named in honor of Welch and former Seaman boys coach Bob Camien.
4. Mike Nash -- The former Shawnee Heights coach led the T-Birds to a girls state team championship in 1993 and coached the Heights boys team to the Class 5A boys title in 1989. Nash, a member of Shawnee Heights Hall of Fame, was an assistant coach for Heights' 5A state championship boys basketball team in 2017.
5. Jerry Beardslee -- Beardslee was a teacher and coach in the Washburn Rural district for 35 years and took over the Junior Blue track program in 1983. Beardslee led Rural to Class 5A boys state team championships in 1984 and 1987. Beardslee also served as an assistant football coach for Rural's 5A state championship football teams in 1985, 1986 and 1989.
6. Rick Strecker -- Strecker led Hayden's girls to state team track and field titles in 1989 and 1995, giving him a total of five state championships with the Wildcats. Strecker also coached Hayden to girls state basketball titles in 1992, 1993 and 1995 and is a member of the Hayden Hall of Fame.
7. Bob Camien -- Camien turned in long stints as Seaman's track and cross country coach, winning state team championships in both sports. Camien's Vikings won the Class 5A boys state team track and field title in 2006. Seaman's annual track and field invitational is named in honor of Camien and former Seaman girls coach Claudia Welch.
8. Jason Broaddus -- A former star athlete at Rossville, Broaddus coached his alma mater to three straight Class 3A girls state championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
9. Beau Caryl -- Caryl coached Highland Park from 2000-2005 and was credited with dramatically increasing the Scots' participation numbers. Caryl coached seven Highland Park teams that placed in the top nine in Class 5A, with a third-place boys state finish in 2004, a tie for second in the boys standings in 2005 and a fourth-place girls finish in 2004. Caryl coached Topeka High's girls in 2008-2009.
10. (tie) -- Heavy Erwin, Jan Magnuson and Dixie Barb -- Erwin and Magnuson both led Topeka High to a pair of state team championships while Barb coached Highland Park to a pair of titles. Erwin led the Trojan boys to Class AA team titles in 1956 and 1963 while Magnuson coached the High girls to Class 5A-4A championships in 1974 and 1975 and Barb led the Highland Park girls to back-to-back Class 6A state crowns in 1980 and 1981.
READERS CHOICE TRACK AND FIELD AWARDS
1. Brad Nicks -- No. 2 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
2. Beau Caryl -- No. 9 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
3. Joe Schrag-- No. 1 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
4. Claudia Welch -- No. 3 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
5. DeJuan Gardenhire -- Gardenhire is the current track and field and cross country coach at Hayden, building the Wildcats participation numbers in both sports. Hayden's boys are coming off a fourth-place team finish in the 2022 Class 4A state meet.
6. Keith Wetzel -- Wetzel has continued Washburn Rural's strong tradition in track and field since taking over for longtime Junior Blues coach Jerry Beardslee, with Rural winning multiple city championships while also being a consistent contender at the Centennial League and Class 6A level.
7. Rick Strecker -- No. 6 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
8. Bob Wells -- Wells may be best known as Shawnee Heights' longtime girls basketball coach, but he is also a highly-respected jumps coach as an assistant for the T-Bird track and field team, coaching the likes of multiple state champion Mikey Hoffer, now at Nebraska.
9. Bob Camien -- No. 7 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
10. Jerry Beardslee -- No. 5 in Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).
Next up: Volleyball Best of the Best Top 10 and Reader's Choice awards.