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Once a Wrestler, Always a Runner
Brett Hill transformed from a dominant high school wrestler into a coaching legend for Idaho runners
Published: 4/23/2020 2:11:18 PM
Summer Dabell
Staff Writer

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From an exceptional college career to 45 state championship titles, there isn't much Brett Hill has left to accomplish. 

The Sugar-Salem track and cross country coach is well known across the state for creating a legacy of winning. Hill and his Digger teams have accumulated 20 state championships in a span of nine years.

But while running may be the arena Hill currently dominates, the dawn of his athletic career began on the wrestling mat. 

"I was big into wrestling in high school and track was a way for me to stay in shape for wrestling,” Hill said. 

Throughout his student-athlete career at Malad High School, Hill proved to be successful in both sports, catching the eyes of track and wrestling recruiters. He eventually accepted a scholarship to Utah State for track and cross country, a decision that led him to one of his greatest mentors: Head Coach Steve Reeder. 

As a small-town Idaho native, Hill said he doubted whether he was ready to compete at the collegiate level, but Reeder was the mentor that would mold Hill into a champion. 

"He allowed me to develop,” Hill said. “He is a slow-cooker coach and helped me understand that success would take time.” 

With hard work and belief in Reeder's philosophy, Hill became one of the better athletes for Utah State, leading to an opportunity to compete in the steeplechase on the Pan American Team. 

"It is an experience that I will never forget,” Hill said. “To be able to wear that uniform was just an honor. It was a completely different level and so incredible to represent the U.S.A."

After his four years at Utah State, Hill ended his career with several accolades, including Big West Conference Steeplechase champion, five Big West All-Conference selections in cross country and track and a sixth-place finish in the steeplechase at the Pan American Games. 

Through these experiences, Hill said he realized his love for cross country and track, as well as a desire to coach and teach the next generation. 

"Reeder helped me see that I had the ability and gift to help kids,” he said. “It has turned out to be such a blessing in my life to teach and coach."

Hill went on to coach for 17 years at Firth High School, attaining 25 state titles for the Cougars. 

Now, Hill teaches math and science while coaching a highly competitive Sugar-Salem program. 

With his decades of experience coaching at the high school level, Hill said patience often plays the biggest role in developing young athletes for success. And while much of that hard work will not translate to a 2020 spring season, Hill said he hopes his senior athletes carry his lessons with them as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives. 

"I want the kids to realize their potential but understand that they won't have instant success. It will require putting in many miles over a long period of time to have success,” he said. “And I want to help them develop a love for this sport." 

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