Saturday night belonged to Jay Herkelman as he reached another milestone in his storied coaching career in front of the home crowd in Nellis Hall. Herkelman got his 622nd career win as the Coffeyville Red Ravens rolled past the Allen Count Red Devils 105-71.
Herkelman was already the all-time leader in coaching wins in the Jayhawk Conference. Tonight's win put him at the very top of the Region VI for all time wins passing Highland and Brown Mackies Francis Flax who held the previous record at 621 wins.
The Red Ravens jumped out to a huge lead in the first half outscoring Allen 63-34 and never looked back. Marvin Johnson led all scorers with 28 points on the night and added a game 7 assists to the special night. Keon Queen also put his stamp on the night having a double double with 13 points and a game high 11 rebounds.
However, the story of the night was Herkelman's milestone 622nd win that he reached in his 24th year of coaching. Each and every one of those victories have been at Coffeyville Community College since his debut in the 1995-1996 season.
Herkelman took over a program that had fallen on hard times. Prior to Herkelman's arrival in Coffeyville, the Ravens suffered through a 3-26 season. Two of those three wins came courtesy of forfeits, so on the court, the Ravens were really 1-28.
Herkelman recruited a new team his first season and the Ravens would go on to win the Jayhawk Conference title, finishing with a 26-7 overall record.
Even with that successful start, Herkelman never envisioned seeing career win number 622 at some point in his future. "You don't think about stuff like that," said Herkelman. "When you start out in coaching, you are just trying to win the first. You just keep moving along and eventually you start reaching some major milestones."
Since 1995, his Ravens have won 14 Jayhawk Conference titles, 8 Region VI championships, and played in the NJCAA National Tournament 9 times including a national runner-up finish in 2002 and a third place finish in 2007.
Opportunities to coach elsewhere have been offered, but Herkelman has accepted none of those. "It's a very good job at Coffeyville and one of the better junior college jobs in the country," said Herkelman. "I've always believed the grass isn't greener on the other side."
"My family was a big factor in staying here," continued Herkelman. "I didn't want my daughters to have to make a move. I decided early on that I didn't want to be a coach that moved around a lot."
And that loyalty has allowed Herkelman to accomplish something rarely seen in the college ranks. Few coaches get to 622 wins, and to be able to do it at the place where it all started makes it even more special.