Those crisp autumn mornings will seem a little different this fall for Dan Zeimet.
After following his own competitive career by working for more than two decades as a cross country coach — the past 16 years as the head coach at St. Ambrose after four years in the same role at Davenport Assumption — Zeimet has stepped down from his job as the Fighting Bees’ cross country coach.
Zeimet will continue to work as the university registrar at St. Ambrose and will still serve as an assistant coach for the Fighting Bees track and field program.
“It’s been a good run,’’ Zeimet said. “The thing I feel good about is that I know the program is going to be in great hands."
Beth Jansen, the program’s current assistant coach, will become the head coach at St. Ambrose on July 1.
She inherits a program that is vastly different from the one Zeimet took over at his alma mater 16 years ago.
A two-time national cross country qualifier as an athlete at St. Ambrose, he first worked as an assistant under Kevin Rose at St. Ambrose and later took over the program in 2003 after coaching Assumption to a third-place finish in the Iowa state high school finals.
“On our first team we had seven men and seven women. At the time, I said that all we lacked was depth and talent,’’ Zeimet said.
“From that start, to winning that first conference championship in 2004 to where we are now it’s been rewarding to watch the program grow from tough years to having the type of success that we’ve enjoyed.’’
Zeimet coached St. Ambrose to 11 conference cross country championships, including six men’s titles and five women’s titles.
He coached four men’s teams and five women’s teams which reached the NAIA Championships, finishing as high as 27th in the men’s field in 2012 and recording a top-25 finish in the women’s race in each appearance led by a 22nd-place finish in 2018.
An 11-time conference coach of the year, Zeimet has coached a conference runner of the year seven times.
“Last fall, we had 40 athletes between our men’s and women’s teams and with the support staff we’ve had in coach (Dan) Tomlin and coach Jansen, we’ve been able to do some great things,’’ Zeimet said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience.’’
Jansen, a Davenport Central graduate who was an all-American in cross country at Central College in 2004, has been an assistant at St. Ambrose since the 2008-09 school year.
She has coached track distance athletes since 2010 and has also coached the Bees’ NAIA championship-winning race walk competitors, including six-time national champ Anthony Peters and 2016 women’s champ Jenny Lopez.