By Cleary Percy
Staff writer

For Hutchinson Community College’s first-year cross country coach Jafet Molinares, the opportunity that HutchCC presents to recruits is a unique one.

Born in Miami and an attendant of Felix Varela Senior High School, Jafet’s parents and family are from Colombia.

“(I) came from a very Hispanic type of culture,” Molinares said, “definitely a hard working, blue-collar type background.”

Molinares was an active participant in sports during his youth, playing soccer, a little bit of baseball and basketball, and soccer from the age 3 to 16. Only after he was 16 did Molinares get into running, and he fell in love with it.

After his time at Felix Varela, Molinares went to Iowa Central Community College and then to Fort Hays State University. Molinares decided to attend Iowa Central when his future coach, Dee Brown, was on his way to sign another individual when he passed by Felix Varela. The two would meet in person, and right then and there Molinares decided he was going to go to Iowa Central.

Molinares’ interests in coaching started all the way back in high school. Through his high school and club coach Danny Aguas, Molinares would go from high school practice to club practice, helping out Aguas with whatever he could and learning from him – whether that was about workouts or just how he talked to his athletes.

“I’m a huge competitor, the part of me that’s a huge competitor is within the analytics part,” Molinares said. “Trying to learn more and more about the sport, whether it’s from coaching styles, trainings, watching interviews, listening to podcasts, all those things.”

Molinares describes his coaching style as a blend of old school and new school principles.

“For me personally, discipline and accountability are always going to be the main drivers to a successful program, installing that into the student athlete and within the culture is obviously huge,” he said.

Adapting to each student athlete is another aspect of coaching Molinares emphasizes.

“He’s more aware of how we feel”, said sophomore runner Lauren Aden.

Molinares understands that not everyone is the same, and that each student athlete requires a different type of motivation.

“Throughout it all, as far as coaching, the relationships and the trust that you build within the student athletes, I think that is definitely the foundation of having a successful program,” Molinares said.

Molinares recognizes how special HutchCC is compared to other two-year colleges in terms of resources and funding.

“You have everything you need here to become a successful runner here, within the dirt roads, the parks, the trails, having your own track and weight room,” Molinares said.

For some student athletes, the mentality of NCAA Division 1 or bust is one that can be hard to shake for both athletes and parents. Molinares said he thinks that community colleges can be just as effective.

“You know how many great individuals have gone this route?” Molinares said. “Social Media is a huge influencer in that as well.”

Molinares felt there was an opportunity at hand when he became the cross country coach at HutchCC, from the women’s cross country team’s fourth place finish at nationals, to how much the athletic department cares about sports.

“The coaching staff, from the track side all the way to my assistant coach, Coach (Al) Petz, has been a tremendous help,” Molinares said. “The community as well, definitely very supportive. It’s always tough to leave where you’re at, but at the same time it was an easy decision when I look back; (it was) the next step for me to elevate my career.”

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