John’s Journal: Minnesota’s First Family Of Cross-Country
Three Generations Of Gerbers Gather At Simley Invitational
Posted: Monday, October 10, 2022 - 2:47 PM
The Simley Invitational is a long-standing cross-country event, having been held for many years at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights. The 2022 event, however, could have carried a different name: The Gerber Family Invitational.
Three generations of Gerbers were involved in Saturday’s meet. Here’s the rundown …
--The starter was Steve Gerber, one of the most experienced cross-country and track and field officials in the state.
--The timing company, Wayzata Results, is owned and operated by Steve’s son Josh.
--The Simley coach is Steve’s son Dan.
--Among the runners was Steve’s grandson, Lyle, running for Richfield.
--Lyle’s dad (and Steve’s son), Kris, was there as a parent.
Steve and Josh have worked at the same meet many times, but Saturday’s event was the first time so many family members were together at a competition.
“With Danny coaching and my grandson running, it’s probably unique,” Steve said.
The Gerbers are a sports family. In addition to his cross-country and track officiating duties, Steve is a veteran scorekeeper and table official, including many state basketball and volleyball tournaments. His sons grew up as runners, even though that wasn’t Steve’s first sport.
A graduate of Brooklyn Tech in New York City, Steve was a swimmer until early in high school.
“I got tired of swimming and a friend said, ‘Why don’t you come out and run?’ We did a lap around the park and I thought that was pretty easy. But they said, ‘No, you have to go around three more times.’ ”
Fast forward to today, and Steve is one of several veteran officials who enjoy watching their grandchildren run.
“Greg Utecht (from Apple Valley) was watching his (grandnephew at Simley on Saturday),” Steve said. “A couple weeks ago, I was watching my grandson at a meet in Farmington and Tom Thorkelson (St. Peter) was watching his grandson. We’ll been officiating forever and now we’re watching our grandkids compete.”
Dan Gerber, who teaches social studies at Simley, is in his seventh year as head cross-country coach. He has worked for Josh’s timing company on occasion, and seeing his dad the starter and brother the timer at a meet is normal.
“With my nephew racing at Richfield. that’s been a pretty unique experience,” Dan said. “I’m trying to coach my athletes and all of a sudden I see my nephew go by and I holler, ‘Go Lyle!’
“It’s been a lot of fun. Typically I don’t see all these generations of Gerbers around. It’s a neat experience.”
When the Gerbers were comparing their individual schedules in August, they realized that they all would be together at the Simley meet.
“Any time I can do a meet with my dad, I enjoy that,” Josh said. “That happens quite a bit. This was the first time my nephew running in a meet I was timing. And if my mom was home, she would have been there, too.”
Steve’s wife, Suzi, missed out because she was on a trip to California. Which is OK, because there will be more reunions.
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected]