Tyler Rathke earned some newfound respect — which really isn’t necessary for the energetic and highly successful William Chrisman High School track and field coach.
He picked up six gold medals over the span of two days as he dominated the field at the Kansas Sunflower Games and Liberty North High School’s Big Beefer throwing meet.
The former state champion from Hays High School in Hays, Kan., won the hammer (155 feet, 4 inches) and discus (153-4) with collegiate implements at the Sunflower Games July 12 . He followed that performance with four more gold medals at the July 13th Big Beefer, winning the discus (168 feet), javelin (145 feet), shot put (49-0) and weight throw (69-2) with high school weight implements.
To make that success even more special, Rathke shared the success with his younger brother Denton and their mother Charlotte, who also earned medals.
Charlotte, throwing women’s implements, won the shot put (26-0) and discus (67-0) at the Sunflower Games and won each event at the Big Beefer, with a throw of 26 feet in the shot put and 69 feet in the discus.
“We had so much fun,” Charlotte said. “I got to see my boys compete and we all did pretty well. Tyler’s love for track is so special and we’re all proud of what he has accomplished at Chrisman.”
Denton was seventh in the discus (117 feet) and sixth in the hammer (90 feet) at the Sunflower Games.
“The coolest thing about all of this, is sharing it with your family, which I think is pretty unique,” Tyler said. “Mom started it all back at Newton High School in Newton, Kansas. That’s where we got our love of track from.
“And my dad, Eric, even competed for the first time in his life, throwing the javelin and finishing second at the Liberty North High School meet. It was just a great time competing with Denton and my mom and dad. The thing I’m most happy about is that my mom and dad are staying active and in good shape and that’s so important. Heck, it’s important for me, too.”
Rathke, who has risen through the ranks and become one of the most respected track coaches in the metro area, won a Kansas discus state title in 2009 and shot and discus crowns in 2010 at Hays High School.
He has enjoyed equal success as a coach the past three years at Chrisman where he has developed four state champions, one runner up, 12 all-state performers, 26 all-district performers and 79 all-conference individuals.
“I don’t necessarily believe you still have to compete as a coach to earn the respect of your athletes, but it doesn’t hurt,” said Rathke, who helped the Bears become one of the strongest teams in Eastern Jackson County.
Recent Chrisman graduate Cam Holloman lavished praise on Rathke.
“Coach Rathke has made track cool at Chrisman,” said Holloman, who was a triple jump qualifier. “It’s just cool to be on his track teams, and we have a lot of fun and have had a lot of success.”
Rathke is proud of his recent success as a competitor, adding, “I think it’s a big deal to still be committed and competitive. It’s like I’m coaching myself, and it’s fun.”
It’s also been a big summer for Rathke as a coach, as he and his Chrisman staff and some of the elite throws coaches from across the nation — including NCAA Division I, II and III, junior college and NAIA coaches — participated in the Midwest Elite Throws Camp at Chrisman.
“It’s really become one of the best throws camp in the country, and it’s right here in everyone’s backyard,” Rathke said. “We had 20 of the best coaches in the country and about 140 kids who attended. It was awesome.”