After five years as an assistant with both the Marshall boys' and girls' cross country teams, Brian Leibfried has been named the successor to former boys' cross country head coach Mike Jacobs.
Leibfried, Marshall's first new head boys' cross country coach in 33 years, said that he was drawn to the coaching vacancy due to a sense of unfinished business.
"I just wanted to stay, with how things have been going in the program, and try to keep things going," he said. "Coach (Marie) Sample and I have been working together for five years too. This will be just a little different format, but still work together and accomplish some similar goals."
Also a math teacher at Marshall High School, Leibfried got his start in cross country as a harrier for the Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI program. Leibfried continued to run in college, winning a national championship as a member of the South Dakota State men's cross country team. After graduation, Leibfried returned to his roots to coach C/M/L for two years, while also serving as an assistant in the Redwood Valley cross country program. He joined the Marshall coaching staff in 2008.
"It's kind of nice to be in a spot where you can give back to a sport that you've been involved with for a long time," Leibfried said. "I know, with running, it was able to give me a lot of different opportunities; you know with meeting different people, going to some different places and gaining a lot of experience with all sorts of life lessons. Being able to give that opportunity back and being able to help some of these young athletes do the same is very rewarding."
For Marshall activities director Bruce Remme, the decision to hand over the reins of Marshall's most decorated boys' program was made largely due to his familiarity with said program.
"We are excited for Brian to be taking over the Marshall boys' cross country program," Remme said in an official statement on Wednesday. "Brian has proven to be a valuable asset as an assistant in the program and we look forward to the opportunity for him to continue to have a positive influence on the student-athletes with which he works.
"Brian is a knowledgeable and experienced coach, a positive leader and a compassionate person. We feel like his work ethic and familiarity with the program will make for a smooth transition for our student-athletes. Brian has a passion for cross country, a passion for coaching, and a passion for teaching. We are excited about all that Brian can provide as the head coach of the Marshall boys' cross country program."
Though the start of the cross country season is still eight months away, that hasn't prevented Leibfried from setting some goals for his team. The Tigers, winners of Class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004, return nearly every member of the 2012 squad which captured the Southwest Conference title and took eighth at the Section 2AA meet. Marshall sent one individual, Andrew Bell, to the state meet at St. Olaf College.
"As a coaching staff we kind of looked at our section results, and throughout the year, and were very excited at the end and with the progress we made," Leibfried said. "We do have a lot of returning people with a lot of experience. The athletes can see it too.
"It kind of reminds us a little of a couple years where at the end of the season the guys really saw an opportunity for the upcoming year to maybe do something special. They got together and decided to try and make a trip to the state tournament. They went through and made it happen. We're kind of looking again at this year that we might have a good opportunity to make a run at it again."
Despite the similarities between 2012 and 2010, Leibfried understands the challenges that lay between now and the fall.
"We do have a tough section that we'll have to deal with, but looking through with the people that graduated we feel that we have a shot to maybe (make the state meet) again this year," he said. "It's exciting for the boys to kind of see that and kind of know that that's an opportunity that they might be able to have."