Meet the Appleseeds Coaches

Head Coach

Derek Leininger

Derek Leininger began running cross country and track in middle school.  Derek was a state medalist and school record holder in the 800 meter run his senior year at Columbia City HS.

Leininger coached high school cross country and track for twelve years: one year at East Noble HS (2003), two years at Concordia Lutheran HS (2004-2006), and nine years at Snider HS (2006-2015).  At Snider, Leininger coached three state-qualifying cross country teams and dozens of all-state cross country and track athletes. The Snider boys 4×800 meter relay team from 2012 still holds the all-time indoor state record.

In 2017, Derek and his wife Gwendolyn co-authored the book Enduring Wisdom, which highlights training and coaching approaches of some of Indiana’s all-time winningest cross country coaches.

Derek continues to be an active runner and he participates in several road races each year.


Assistant Coaches

Megan Theismann

Megan Thiesmann began running cross country and track in middle school and now competes at the collegiate level at Trine University. She graduated from Norwell High School in 2017. This will be Megan’s third year as an assistant coach for Appleseeds. She enjoys helping kids have fun with running and improve their abilities along the way!

Andrew Whitinger began running track and cross country in middle school and is now a collegiate athlete competing for Purdue Fort Wayne University. Andrew Graduated from Blue River Valley High School in 2019. He is a Business Marketing Major at Purdue Fort Wayne and a record holder on their Track and Cross Country Teams. Andrew is an employee at Three Rivers Running Company and this will be his first year as an assistant coach for Appleseeds. He enjoys helping kids find joy in running and helping them get faster along the way.

“I am always inspired by other runners. I love being around positive people and draw energy from them. Whether plodders or speed demons, I love to talk to them and listen to their stories.”

Betty Nelson


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