The Rogers State Athletic Department and Athletic Director Chris Ratcliff have announced the appointment of Matt Kennedy as the Head Coach of the Hillcat Cross Country and Track & Field programs.
“We are excited to welcome Matt to the Hillcat family,” said Ratcliff. “We are elated to find a coach of Matt’s experience both as a head and assistant coach, as he brings a wealth of experience and success to the Hillcat cross country and track & field programs.”
“I am excited and honored to be the next head coach at RSU,” said Kennedy. “I would like to thank Chris Ratcliff, Sara Braun, Chris McCormick, and the entire RSU family for this great opportunity and for making me feel welcome.”
Kennedy joins Rogers State from Oklahoma Baptist, where he has served as Head Coach for the cross country programs and Assistant Coach for the Bison track & field programs. Kennedy will take over for Chris McCormick, who created the cross country and track & field programs and has announced his retirement from collegiate coaching in December.
“Matt also brings with him a strong familiarity both within the state of Oklahoma and the central region,” said Ratcliff. “It will be a valuable asset as we continue to grow and build our cross country and track & field programs.”
The Wichita Falls, Texas native will come to College Hill after spending the last eight and a half years with the Oklahoma Baptist program. Kennedy has been the head coach of the women’s cross country program since 2014 and took over the men’s cross country program in 2018. Kennedy has been an assistant with Track & Field since arriving on campus for his second stint with the Bison in June of 2011.
“My time at OBU has provided me with some of the most enjoyable experiences of my life,” said Kennedy. “I am lucky to have developed lifelong friendships. I will be forever grateful to my friend and mentor Ford Mastin for the opportunities he has allowed me.”
Since becoming postseason eligible in 2017, after the transition from the NAIA, Kennedy has guided the Bison to four Great American Conference Cross Country Championships and two NCAA National Championship appearances. Kennedy’s teams just swept the Great American Conference Team Championships in late October, with the Women’s and Men’s programs winning their respective conference titles. Overall, Kennedy has been named Great American Conference Coach of the Year four times, including a sweep of the honors this season.
Under Kennedy’s direction, the Bison won three-straight GAC Championships on the women’s side. They also qualified for the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Division II National Championships. The women’s program has been ranked in the USTFCCCA Top 25 for 20 consecutive weeks and has finished in the top five in the central region in three-consecutive seasons.
Kennedy took over the men’s cross country program in 2018 and led them to a runner-up finish in his first season at the helm. Under his guidance, the men’s program reached the Top 10 in the USTFCCCA regional ranking for the first time in school history and recorded their best-ever finish at the regional meet with a 13th overall.
During the three-year span, Kennedy has also guided two USTFCCCA NCAA All Americans in cross country, three USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Teams, 10 USTFCCCA All-Region performers in cross country and track, 12 USTFCCCA All-Academic Individuals and 66 GAC All-Conference performers in cross country and track.
During Oklahoma Baptist’s transition from the NAIA to NCAA, Kennedy oversaw back-to-back NCCAA National Championship runners-up finishes for women’s cross country. Prior to the transition, the women’s cross country program qualified for the NAIA Cross Country National Championship after winning the 2014 Sooner Athletic Conference Team Championship. He was subsequently named the SAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
As an assistant coach with the Track & Field program, Kennedy guided distance runners to eight Women’s NAIA Indoor and Outdoor National Championship appearances and five Men’s NAIA Indoor and Outdoor National Championship appearances.
Prior to his return to Shawnee, Kennedy spent two and a half years as the head cross country and track & field coach for the women’s program at Friends University. During his time in Wichita, Kennedy guided the women’s team to the first conference track & field championship in school history in 2010 and then made it back-to-back championships in 2011. Kennedy swept the 2010 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year honors. He was also named the KCAC Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2011.
Before his transition to Friends University in 2009, Kennedy served as the men’s and women’s assistant track and field coach at OBU and was part of two National Championship teams in 2007, the women’s indoor title and men’s outdoor title. Responsible for leading OBU’s jumpers from 2006-2009, Kennedy coached athletes to numerous NAIA National Championship appearances and All-American honors.
Kennedy moved to OBU in 2006 from his alma mater, Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he assisted with the women’s cross country team during the 2005 inaugural season.
Prior to Midwestern State, Kennedy served for three seasons as the head track and field coach and two years as the Athletic Director at Wichita Christian High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Arguably the most successful teams in the school’s history, Kennedy’s squads finished among the top eight at the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools State Track and Field Championships each of his three seasons. During this time, Kennedy’s athletes brought home 13 individual state titles along with numerous other top-five awards.
From 2003 to 2007 Kennedy was responsible for the resurrection of the Wichita Falls Track Club. During this five-year period, the club’s enrollment increased from 28 to a record-setting 92, with 105 athletes enrolling the following year. In addition, the number of athletes qualifying for the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Track and Field State Championships more than doubled. This included a historic 32 state qualifiers in 2007 and the club’s first TAAF Local, Regional, and State Athlete of the Year.
Kennedy is a Level 1 USA Track & Field Certified Coach and a member of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Kennedy holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Midwestern State University, graduating in 2006. He earned a Master’s of Education Degree from East Central University in 2018.