With its famous Drake Relays, the state of Iowa is a proving ground for some of the greatest track and field athletes in the world, as many competitors at the annual event go on to achieve national and international acclaim. For hundreds of University of Central Missouri athletes who have been mentored by former Iowans and Drake Relay participants Kirk Pedersen and Kip Janvrin, the state also has a reputation for producing exceptional coaches.

Lending credence to this claim is the duo’s decades-long success as co-head coaches for UCM’s men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams. In this time, their professional partnership has produced numerous accolades for individual athletes and teams and for the coaches themselves — most recently their induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Track Coach Hall of Fame

Both men traveled to Springfield, Missouri, on Jan. 27 to join members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class of numerous Missouri athletes, coaches and administrators who have defined sports at many different levels of competitiveness and across a wide array of athletic endeavors. Their enshrinement within this prestigious organization placed them among the ranks of two UCM members: 2015 inductee Kathy Anderson, ’80, a former Jennies Basketball All-American and current assistant director of internal relations; and Jerry Hughes, ’71, UCM’s current athletic director, who attained the Hall of Fame’s Sports Legend title in 2016. All are part of a growing list of UCM teams and individuals who have brought distinction to the university through their recognition.

For Janvrin and Pedersen to enter the Hall of Fame on the same day, however, is a special and rare opportunity for two men who have enjoyed a strong connection since college. They’ve not only competed and coached together but also shared best man responsibilities at each other’s weddings, and even have children — Mason Janvrin, Jodi Pedersen and James Duane (JD) Pedersen — who have the same birthdays.

  Track Coach Best Man Mason Jodi James


It’s obviously a huge honor to go in with my best friend,” Janvrin says of the induction ceremony. “It’s even better for us to be celebrated for the amount of time we have spent here. I would say good coaches are made by good athletes, and to be recognized for our body of work is quite an honor.”

“I think it’s a reflection of a lot of years,” Pedersen adds.

While at UCM, the coaching tandem has created a winning atmosphere that has led to 35 MIAA Championships, including 27 men’s conference titles and eight women’s titles. They also led the Mules to a combined 25 NCAA Top 10 finishes and 13 for the Jennies. Both reached the pinnacle of their UCM coaching careers by guiding the women’s track team to the NCAA Division II Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2015.

Long before they were helping to grow conference-winning national champions and All-American athletes, Janvrin and Pedersen were getting to know each other as teammates participating in track and field at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Janvrin, the son of a high school teacher, coach and athletic director, was a freshman member of his college team when he met Pedersen, a seasoned senior track star and son of an Iowa farmer who went on to be a five-time NCAA Division III All-American and a national champion in the indoor 800-meter run his senior year.

“He was one of those guys I wanted to be like,” Janvrin says, adding that Pedersen taught him a lot about work ethic and believing in himself. These were all lessons he took to heart to help him mature and become a team leader.

Janvrin’s competitive spark and discipline continued long after college as he developed into a world-class athlete. He compiled a world-record 40 decathlon wins, 15 of them coming at the Drake Relays, as well as decathlon wins at the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival, the 1995 Pan Am Games, and the 2001 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Additionally, in 2000 he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney, Australia.

The acquaintanceship between the two college teammates grew into a friendship that Pedersen never forgot. After graduating from Simpson in 1985, he lived briefly in Phoenix, Arizona, before heading to Warrensburg.

“I remember my junior year of college, we came down here to the indoor relays, and I ran a race. It was kind of a neat place,” Pedersen recalls. “So when I graduated I started looking at graduate assistantships, and Central Missouri had one.”

Pedersen arrived at UCM in 1987 and began working as an assistant coach under the tutelage of another Iowan, Les Stevens. Before he retired, Stevens supported Pedersen’s endorsement of Janvrin to help out with coaching while pursuing a master’s degree.

“At that time he (Janvrin) was looking into going to Mankato, Minnesota, and I said, ‘Why would you want to go up there in that snow? Why don’t you move down here?’ And he did, and so we were both GAs.”

Pedersen got promoted to head coach of the cross country teams and has served the past 32 seasons in that capacity, an assignment that has included guiding the Mules to 11 MIAA Championships in the past 24 years, with 11 straight Top 25 finishes at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. He also coached the Jennies cross country team to a trio of MIAA Championships, and has earned MIAA Cross Country Coach of the Year honors 13 times.

Pedersen and Janvrin have shared co-head coaching duties for track and field since 1994. Among many different honors, in 2002 and 2015, they were both named United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Indoor Coaches of the Year and 2015 National Outdoor Coaches of the Year.

Track Team

While college coaching is filled with plenty of changes from year to year as students graduate and new team members come onboard, the one thing that remains constant at UCM is Janvrin and Pedersen’s commitment to their work and to their friendship.

As Janvrin puts it, “We coach different areas, and I can’t really remember an argument we’ve had about anything. We’ve always been about recruiting the best available (students) … we just have a unique friendship and respect for each other, and that allows us to co-exist in a very good way.”

Were you a UCM track and field athlete? A reunion is being planned for April 2020, and we want your ideas! Please complete this Google Form or call 660-543-4454 to share your feedback.



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