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From All-American to Coach of the Year: Steve Guymon enters Athletic Hall of Fame

Although he believes Oklahoma Christian University “ran out of names” when making selections for the 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame, Steve Guymon, who earned All-American honors in track and cross-country five times during his college career, ran past the competition to be named to the Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Fame.

Guymon grew up in Cordova, TN and attended Harding Academy of Memphis, where he began his track career in middle school.

“In seventh grade, I got cut in baseball and my dad was a professional baseball player,” Guymon said. “I remember going home that afternoon after I got cut and telling him I got cut. And he said, ‘You’ve either got to go out for another sport or you’ve got to get a job.’”

Being just in seventh grade and not wanting to get a job, Guymon said he immediately decided to tryout for another sport.

“The only sports available at that time were basketball, football, baseball and track. I went out for track, to be a sprinter. The first tryout we had, our junior high coach said, ‘We need some people to run the mile.’ I happen to run the warm-up faster than the other people, so he threw me in the mile and that’s the first time I ran the mile.”

After graduating from high school in 1980, Guymon continued to compete in track and field at Oklahoma Christian College. Guymon ran for Oklahoma Christian from 1980 to 1984.

While a member of the Eagles’ track and cross country teams, Guymon earned many notable athletic honors. He placed 10th at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) cross country meet in 1982. In 1983 and 1984, Guymon ran the distance medley relay, winning the NAIA National Championship for the relay and placing fourth in the steeplechase.

Guymon held the school record for the 6,400-meter relay with a time of 17:11.24, which was broken in 2012 and now stands at 16:59.2.

Although Guymon recorded many achievements throughout his time running in college, he said his fondest memories were running the relays with his team.

“There’s something about a relay,” Guymon said. “It’s more of a team thing and I had the opportunity to run the anchor of some really good relays in my last two years there. Probably the highlight was the Drake relays in 1983. We were not favored to win. We had a really good race and we won. I remember there was probably 20,000 people in the stands. I remember that atmosphere, the whole race and how it felt.”

Upon graduating from Oklahoma Christian with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Guymon returned to Memphis, TN to teach and coach at his alma mater, Harding Academy from 1985 to 1987.

Guymon then transferred to the University of Kansas to serve as a graduate assistant for two years for the Jayhawks’ track and cross country team, while obtaining his master’s in education and sports administration. He stayed at the University of Kansas for eight years after being hired full time as the distance and cross-country coach.

According to Guymon, his time at the University of Kansas molded him into the type of coach he is today.

“I wanted to have All-Americans,” Guymon said. “I wanted the coaches to think, ‘Man, he’s doing pretty good.’ And I realized one day—actually in 1992—I had a young girl, she was the first All-American I’d ever coached. I remember when she earned that title, it didn’t feel like I thought it was going to feel. It was like God was saying, ‘Are you doing this for you or are you doing this for her?’ Then, from that point on, my whole coaching philosophy changed.”

After leaving the University of Kansas, Guymon traveled back to Memphis, TN to begin a new track and cross-country program at Cordova High School, which was opening in 1996. While head coach for the Wolves, Guymon coached Cordova to a third-place finish in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) State Championship in 2001. Guymon earned multiple TSSAA Coach of the Year titles in 2000 while coaching at Cordova.

Currently, Guymon serves as the head coach of the cross country and track and field programs at Harding University in Searcy, AR. Over 15 years, Guymon earned 19 conference coach of the year titles and has coached 78 All-American athletes. Most recently, Guymon lead the Bison to the Great American Athletic Conference Championships for women’s cross country and men’s and women’s track and field.

“We’ve gotten so scientific with coaching that I think a lot of coaches have forgotten about the art part of it, the caring part,” Guymon said. “I guarantee you Coach Wade Miller and I probably train people different, but if they believe in him and they believe in themselves first of all, they are going to be successful. I think that’s the thing I try to instill here. I’ll do the best I can to give you the best workouts, but you’ve got to believe in what we’re doing, and me and yourself.”

During a dinner and reception Jan. 30, Guymon and five other honorees will be inducted into the Oklahoma Christian Athletic Hall of Fame.

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