Congratulations are in order. Hauser's Ben Finke was recently named Coach of the Year for 2022 by the Indiana High School Athletic Association at the Mid-Hoosier Conference last month.

The 35-year-old varsity cross country and track & field coach says he is thankful to the kids for all the work they put in this season.

“I mean, I don’t think I would have gotten Coach of the Year without their efforts and participation,” Finke says. “So, they made it a great season, and this was just part of what they did.”

Finke, a 2005 Hauser graduate, has coached high school cross country at Hauser for the past decade and has been the boys' varsity track coach for 10 seasons, as well.

His coaching style can be simply described as a matter of respect.

“I think for our sport, especially, I have to trust the kids to do what they need to do and teach them to be independent and self-driven,” Finke says. “I encourage that whenever I can at practices, meets and training outside of the year. Since it is individual, I try my best to talk to, train and coach everyone because you never know what anyone is capable of or what their potential is.”

Finke’s passion for the sport is one that is fueled by the recognition that it is uniquely and simultaneously an individual and team sport.

“We can work as a team but have a lot of individual success and recognize that,” Finke says.

As the team takes rest and recuperates this fall with a brief break, Finke says a time to reset is essential.

“Rest is something important for the coach and athletes,” he says. “The kids are training on their own a little bit and learning to get out there in the weather and all conditions and be independent."

The team’s respite is well earned. In addition to Finke being honored, the team also shined bright this season.

In a recent email, Finke shared the athletes’ accomplishments.

“The boys team were MHC Conference Champs, while the girls were conference runners-up. Five Jets were recognized as All-Conference runners: Lucie Asher, Madison Hollman, Amanda Steward, Colin Kistler, and Nolan Dailey.

The junior high team also had a successful year, with the boys team taking their fifth consecutive conference championship, and the girls team finishing as second.

The girls team was incomplete for the Sectional meet, but the boys placed 6th, just missing advancement as a team. Two girls (Lucie Asher and Madison Hollman) and four boys (Nolan Dailey, Colin Kistler, Collin Buck, and Ledger Gelfius) made it out of the Sectional as individual Regional qualifiers, and Colin Kistler advanced from the Regional to Semi-State.

Three upperclassmen (Reiss Kistler, Amanda Steward, and Bronwyn Newcomb) earned Academic All-State honors from both the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) and the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA), while the team finished the quarter with a 3.80 GPA.”

Finke is inspired by the coaches who came before, he says.

“I hope to continue what they did,” he says. “And accomplish some of what has come before.”