Slotboom receives USTFCCCA academic honors.
Slotboom earns spot on Dutch National Team.
Nikki Rietz and Katelyn Stringfellow named to All-Academic Second-Team.
Mergaert ends cross country career in perfect fashion.
Mergaert and Slotboom's performances boost Utah to second-best finish in school history.
Kyle Kepler is in his 11th year as the head coach of the Utah women's cross country and track & field programs. Kepler's organization and attention to detail have allowed him to develop a solid foundation and create a competitive program that has steadily improved each year.
Kepler has coached four athletes to All-America honors at Utah. Amanda Mergaert was a five-time All-American, with her career culminating in first-team honors in 2013 in the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500 as well as cross country honors in 2012. Langley Iverson (2011, indoor high jump), Brianna LeRoy (2012, outdoor high jump), and Rosalie Waller (2014, outdoor 800) have also earned All-America honors at Utah under Kepler.
Under Kepler, the Utes have had 37 athletes post 78 NCAA Outdoor preliminary qualifying marks, and sent nine athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Mergaert (2011-13, 1,500) and Chelsea Shapard (2007-09, 400 hurdles) were both three-time NCAA attendees. Mergaert finished third in the 1,500 at NCAA's as a senior in 2013. She was the 2011 USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women's Track Athlete of the Year. Kepler increased Utah's NCAA Outdoor Regional Championships attendees from five in 2006 to 10 in 2013. The Utes have also sent two athletes to the NCAA Indoor Championships under Kepler. Mergaert (2012, mile) and Rebekah Winterton (2014, 5,000) have both won Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor track championships. Utah has set 17 outdoor and 13 indoor school records since 2006.
In cross country, Kepler has sent athletes to the NCAA Championships five times. Mergaert was a three-time cross country NCAA qualifier. The Utes have had five runners combine for seven all-region honors. Utah was ranked as high as fifth in the region in 2008.
During Utah's six years in the Mountain West Conference under Kepler, the Utes won nine outdoor conference titles and two indoor titles. Shapard was a three-time 400 hurdles outdoor champion. Utah earned 23 outdoor and 20 indoor All-MWC honors.
Kepler's influence on his student-athletes is not just visible on the track, but also in the classroom. His cross country teams have earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors eight years while his track teams have earned honors five times. His athletes have combined for 38 individual honors from the USTFCCCA between track and cross country. Lauren Endersen was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2008 and 2009, while Waller earned honors in 2014. Since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12, the Utes have earned 36 all-academic cross country and 63 all-academic track accolades, in addition to 62 MPSF all-academic honors.
Kepler is in his 17th year coaching at the NCAA Division I level. Prior to coming to Utah, Kepler served as Northern Iowa's head men's and women's cross country coach and assistant track and field coach for two seasons. He was on staff at UNI for a total of seven years, serving as an assistant cross country coach for five years prior to being named head coach in 2003. Kepler was named the Missouri Valley Conference Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003 after leading the Panthers to a MVC title. The Panthers won 12 MVC titles among cross country and indoor and outdoor track during his tenure with the Panthers. He coached nine All-Americans at UNI, and 15 athletes qualified for the NCAA Championships between track and cross country.
At UNI, he served as the meet manager for the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships and Pre-Nationals meet. Kepler was also named the meet director of the annual A. D. Dickinson Relays, one of the largest high school indoor meets in the nation.
Kepler competed at Northern Iowa, taking part in both cross country and track and field for the Panthers and serving as a team captain during the 1997-98 school year. As an athlete, Kepler was a member of five MVC championship teams. He earned all-conference honors nine times during his collegiate career, was a two-time all-region cross country selection and a six-time Academic All-MVC honoree.
Kepler holds both master's and bachelor's degrees from Northern Iowa. He earned his master's degree in physical education in 2004 and graduated with a bachelor's in secondary education (geography) in 1998.
Kepler is married to Hannah Vickery.