After 19 seasons as head coach of the track and field and women's cross country programs at Allan Hancock College, Louie Quintana has decided to pass the baton to his former student-athlete. Two weeks after the 2019 track season ended, Quintana announced his plans to step down as Hancock's head track coach. Kenna Wolter, his assistant coach this past spring, has been named the interim head coach of Hancock's track and field program, pending approval next month by the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees.
"I've enjoyed my time mentoring the student-athletes and have made countless friendships with fellow coaches over the years," said Quintana, who spent 14 years coaching at Righetti High School prior to joining Hancock. "I'm ready to sit back and relax, spend more time with family and grandchildren, and do a little traveling. I may even become a certified track and field official."
During his 19 years at Hancock, Quintana guided many student-athletes to individual conference championships, as well as appearances at regional and state championships. Under Quintana, Bobbie Patton won Western State Conference shot put titles in 2004 and 2005, and a state shot put title in 2005. Between 2014 and 2018, at least one Bulldog won an individual conference title every year, including multiple conference champions in 2014 and 2016.
When asked what his proudest moments have been at Hancock, Quintana said, "I could never pick just one or two. They are all great memories for me."
Patton, Brent Dionisio, Taylor Nevitt, Hailey Batty, Jonathon General, Chelsea Cassulo, and Wolter are among the dozens of student-athletes who earned scholarships to four-year universities after competing for Quintana.
"Our track and cross country athletes have enjoyed the good fortune of having a coach who has been a main stay for the programs," said Kim Ensing, associate dean and athletic director. "His dedication as a part-time coach resulted in a full-time effort. His enthusiasm and representation of Hancock across the state will be sorely missed."
Replacing Quintana will be Wolter, who held the Hancock record in the long jump of 18 feet, 7.75 inches from 2009 to 2018. She still ranks No. 2 all-time in program history in the women's long jump. The Righetti High School graduate transferred from Hancock and earned a Division I scholarship to University of South Dakota, where she earned a bachelor's degree in recreation and a master's in kinesiology. Wolter is grateful for the opportunity to lead a program that impacted her life in so many ways nearly one decade ago.
"To return to the program that laid the foundation for my academic and athletic career is very meaningful to me," said Wolter, who knows exactly what student-athletes face in the months that lead up to and follow high school graduation. "I remember being that kid in high school who didn't really know what they wanted to do in life, wasn't sure which sport to pursue in college, and had no way of affording college without student loans. Hancock gave me the opportunity to attain my associate degree and realize my abilities in track and field could help me receive a scholarship to further my education at the next level. Without Hancock, I wouldn't have a bachelor's or master's degree, and wouldn't have competed at the Division I and national levels."
Before joining Hancock's coaching staff, Wolter spent three seasons working with jumpers as a graduate assistant coach at the University of South Dakota (USD), where she enjoyed a successful collegiate career. She still holds the USD indoor triple jump record of 41 feet, 9.25 inches, ranks No. 4 in the outdoor triple jump with a mark of 40 feet, 10.25 inches, and sits at No. 7 in the indoor long jump at 19 feet, 0.5 inch. Wolter also won the Summit League Triple Jump title and placed third in the long jump in 2012. She qualified for two NCAA West Preliminary Meets with the Coyotes. Wolter finished second at the USATF Indoor National Championships in 2015. She returned to Hancock as an assistant cross country coach in fall 2018 and served as an assistant track coach this spring.
"Coach Quintana first contacted me to be an assistant and eventually started talking to me about being head coach one day. I didn't think it would be so soon. But he believes in my abilities and I am thankful for his guidance and support. It will be great to have him around next spring as an assistant coach," said Wolter.
Ensing further described Wolter as a great example of a student fulfilling the college's motto, "Start here. Go Anywhere."
"Who better to take over the program and inspire others to aim high than someone who has managed success as a former Bulldog?" said Ensing. "Kenna has demonstrated a great ability to teach the sport and has a clear vision the program. I am excited to see what the future will bring."
"Kenna has tremendous experience and dedication to the sport. Her energy will be great for the program," added Quintana, who will remain head coach of Hancock's women's cross country program and an assistant on Wolter's coaching staff next spring.
Wolter is thrilled for the opportunity to take the baton from her mentor and friend, and she's ready to run with it.
"I can't wait to do my best to add to what Coach Quintana has built and accomplished over 19 years," she said. "My ultimate goal is to develop a team that will win conference championships and individual titles. Along with that I would like to see my student-athletes find success in the classroom and move on to four-year universities. In order to accomplish these goals, I will provide my athletes with the coaching and resources they need to be the best student-athletes they can be."