By Steve Carpenter,
Hutchinson CC Sports Information Director
While the eras, the players, the style of game and the strategies make it impossible to draw any comparisons, the one thing that unites Steve Eck and Charles Sesher is the ultra-high bars both set as the head men's basketball coach at Hutchinson Community College.
Sesher coached the Blue Dragons for 24 seasons (1929 through 1957 – there were three years during World War II the athletic program at Hutchinson was suspended), Sesher amassed 259 victories with the Blue Dragons. That record reached 61 years in the 2017-18 season.
On Tuesday during the Blue Dragons' 2018 NJCAA Tournament opening-round 84-60 victory over Cape Fear Community College, Sesher's long-standing record fell as Eck became the new all-time coaching wins leader for the Blue Dragons.
"Right now, it doesn't even faze me. I'm happy for the guys," Eck said in Tuesday's postgame news conference at the Sports Arena. "That win should have come in the regular season, but it didn't. I'm angry at myself about that.
"This national tournament is all about the guys. It's about playing and enjoying it."
It took Eck nine seasons and 311 total games to chase down Sesher. Eck's record at Hutchinson after Tuesday's victory is 260-51. His overall junior college record over 20 seasons is 592-102 at Butler County, Redlands, Cowley and Hutchinson.
Sesher needed 410 games to achieve his 259-151 Blue Dragon record. It should be noted that during Sesher's era, seasons were on average 10 to 15 games shorter than today's seasons that consist of 30 regular-season games plus whatever postseason a team puts together.
Upon hearing the news that their head coach was the Blue Dragons' new all-time coaching leader, J.J. Rhymes and Devonte Bandoo both congratulated their head coach, who helped them win an NJCAA National Championship as freshman last season. Both were also grateful of Eck's tutelage.
"Steve is a good coach," said Rhymes, who had a game-high 19 points on Tuesday against Cape Fear. "Sometimes we are like 'come on, coach,' but at the end of the day, he always knows what he's talking about.
"I'm lucky to have him as a coach."
Eck is the 14th head coach in the 87-year history of Blue Dragon basketball. Eck has led the Blue Dragons to five NJCAA National Tournaments (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), only one appearance shy of the record set by Blue Dragon Hall of Famer Gene Keady.
Eck is the only coach to lead the Blue Dragons to four consecutive NJCAA Tournaments.
The Blue Dragons have won two Jayhawk Conference Championships (2016, 2017) and two Region VI Championships (2013, 2016) under Eck. Eck's 2016 team finished as the NJCAA National Runner-up and last year's team won the program's third national championship in its history.
The Blue Dragon head coach, who is a Reno County native from Haven, was quick to point out a very important person in his success at Hutchinson – assistant coach Jay Cyriac.
"Jay has been with me for seven years now," Eck said. "You can't mention all-time wins without mentioning Jay Cyriac. He goes out and gets all of these out-of-state players. He deserves a lot of credit."
With Tuesday's victory, the 11th-seeded Blue Dragons advance to the second round of the NJCAA Tournament. Hutchinson will play No. 6-seed Florida Southwestern Stat eat 8 p.m. on Wednesday for a berth in Thursday's quarterfinals.