Rupe being honored by OATCCC

McDonald coach Chris Rupe took over the boys cross country program from Barry Clute in 1997.

It wasn’t so much Rupe was mentored by the former coach, but rather shown the ropes.

“He had the wisdom to continue coaching and mentoring me until he felt I was ready to go ahead and take over the program,” said Rupe, who started back in 1987 as an assistant girls track coach. “There’s so many things that go with heading up a program.

“A lot of young coaches see themselves ready to be a head coach. I’m ready to be a good coach because I was a good college runner or I was a successful runner in marathons or things like that.”

Rupe has learned it takes more than physical skill to be achieve the mental aspects of coaching that transcend to the athletes.

Sixteen years later, he has fostered one of the state’s best programs – winning four Division III state championships and six runners-up during his tenure.

Tonight in Columbus, Rupe will be honored by the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches by being inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

“It’s a neat thing for a person’s effort to be recognized,” Rupe said.

His brother, Ted, who was Maplewood’s boys cross country and track coach, was inducted into the OATCCC Hall of Fame in 2003. Ted’s teams won Division III state titles in 1997, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

The two programs have been synonymous with cross country excellence.

Ted’s teams even had a 20-year streak of making state. McDonald’s boys team have made state every year since 1999, closing in on Maplewood’s mark.

Both brothers are Maplewood graduates and legendary runners for the Rockets.

“It was neat watching him and following his coaching in the early going,” Chris said.

Last season, McDonald were runners-up to Seneca East by six points.

This team surged ahead late in the season and almost won the school back-to-back titles. It would’ve been the first since Clute mentored the team to two straight Class A crowns in 1982 and ’83.

McDonald won state in 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2011.

During the 2011 season, McDonald struck state gold twice. The first came during early June on the campus of Ohio State University.

McDonald, led by Kent State University athletes Matthias Tayala (thrower) and Miles Dunlap (sprinter and hurdler), won the 2011 Division III state championship. It was the first time since 1999, when the team was more distance oriented, McDonald won state.

Throughout all those accolades, it’s never been about him.

“There’s a feeling of accomplishment to getting people to buy into a program and the way of things and promoting the athletes and the sport,” Rupe said.

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of people that have bought into the program.”