Joe Bill Dixon
Founder and Inspiration
Joe Bill Dixon is the founder of Wilderness Running Camp and the long time coach of the Zizzer cross country and Track Programs. Coach Dixon is a native of the West Plains, MO area, being born and raised on the Dixon family farm. He was the first cross country runner at the West Plains High School. After a collegiate running career at Oklahoma Christian College and serving his country in the US Army, Coach Dixon returned to West Plains. He eventually met his future wife and companion Judy and began a teaching and coaching career. Coach was instrumental in starting the HCAA (a local rural K-8 school district athletic conference) while teaching at Richards Elementary School. After leaving that position he moved to the high school level at West Plains High School in 1978. He was asked to start a Cross Country program there and that led to the start of the legendary Zizzer Cross Country tradition. In the first year of that program the Zizzers placed 8th. The next year they won it all. That began a tradition of winning that has amassed 13 boys and 13 girls state championship teams, 56 top four placing boys and girls teams, many all-state cross country and track athletes, and 11 state champions in cross country and many more in track.
Coach Dixon is a man that chooses to live a simple life in an extraordinary way. He is a man that has dedicated his entire life to molding young boys into men and young girls into ladies. Coach Dixon is a husband and father that never put his highly successful career ahead of doing that which is right. He is a disciple of Christ that has avoided taking any credit of successes for his own but has insisted that all his victories are due to the grace of God and his attempt to follow life’s principles set forth by God in His Holy Word.
From 1978 -1990 Coach Joe Bill Dixon had already led his cross-country teams at West Plains High School to six state championships and through the suggestion and urging of a number of different coaches he established the Wilderness Running Camp. Some felt that sharing his secrets would ruin his own program. Coach's desire for helping others succeed didn't let that stop him. He knew that it wasn’t just his knowledge that drew the Zizzer successes but the hard work and dedication of him and his athletes that made it happen. The willingness to share the training philosophies of Coach Dixon's teams has helped countless runners across the state and midwest to be better runners and people.
Greg, Coach Dixon’s oldest son, is currently boys head track and freshman football coach, and teaches physical education at West Plains high school. Since joining the track staff as head boys coach in 2012 his teams have won 6 Ozark conference championships, a district championship, and has a second and third place finish at state. Greg has coached several all state track athletes as well as a 2 time state high jump champion.
Greg was a part of two state championship cross country teams at West Plains. He was also on the runner up track team in 1992 and was on the first state champion 4 x 800 meter relay team for the Zizzers in 1992. Greg went on to play basketball at the junior college level and then came to back to track at Oklahoma Christian University where he was a national qualifier in the 4 x 800 meter relay and received all conference honors two years in a row in men’s triple jump. During his time at Oklahoma Christian he met his wife, Jamie, who was also a member of the track team. They have three children Laura Ruth, Lily Jo, and Judge Walker.
Greg is usually found in the middle of a group of coaches telling one of his many stories on Coach Dixon or about his former days as a Zizzer runner. If you need a good laugh or something breaks down Greg is the man you need to see.
Jamie grew up in Kansas and in high school participated in volleyball, basketball and track. She was a two time state all stater in the discus. She went on to attend Oklahoma Christian University on a track and academic scholarship. Jamie qualified for indoor nationals in the weight throw and outdoor nationals in the hammer throw her senior year.
Jamie currently teaches art at Howell Valley and is a throws coach for West Plains High School track team. Since joining the staff in 2014 Jamie has coached 5 all state throwers in the shot and discus.
She has coached volleyball at the high school and junior high levels until retiring from coaching to raise her four children, Greg (really her husband), Laura Ruth, Lily Jo, and Judge Walker.
Jamie is a cook at Wilderness Running Camp and in charge of any building projects around the Dixon Heritage Campground. She and her husband Greg run to daily operations of the camp.
River Session Director
Coach Gunter has been employed by the West Plains School District since 2003. Coach Gunter is currently the Zizzer girls head cross country and track coach. She has helped coach multiple all state runners in cross country and track and field during her tenure.
She has attended Wilderness Running Camp since 1992 as a camper, counselor, and coach. Coach Gunter currently serves as Session two director. Coach Gunter ran for Coach Dixon in the 90’s and was a member of two State Championship Teams and two Runner-up Teams. She was an NAIA All-American in the Marathon at Oklahoma Christian where she attended college. Coach Gunter is married to Wes (also a Zizzer Cross Country alumni) and they have 3 children, Jayna, Kyler and Ryken. Coach Gunter continues to choose Joe Bill Dixon’s Wilderness Running Camp every year because of the unique team of coaches that come together to run off a one of a kind running camp.
Camp Trinity Director
A native of New Haven, MO, Coach Hill is a 1984 graduate of New Haven High School. Coach Hill is currently at School of the Osage in 2006 and has guided her boys team to second in Class 2 State Championship and coached many all state athletes. Coach Hill also attends the river session where she is our coach in charge of sports medicine.
While in high school she lettered in cross country, softball, volleyball and track. She was a state champion her senior year in track and was named her schools scholar athlete. Coach Hill built an impressive record as a runner while in college, While competing for Missouri Baptist College of St. Louis, MO; she was a four year letter winner in both cross country and track. She also participated for one year in college softball. She was a 1988 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Champion in the Marathon. She has run numerous road races, adventure runs and marathons around the country, including the prestigious Boston Marathon, Los Angeles Marathon and the Wild Onion Adventure Run. Coach Hill has a Bachelor in Science Degree from Missouri Baptist College. She also has completed a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine.
River camp Co-Director
Jeremy Goddard has been the head boys cross country coach of Kickapoo high school since 2003, and head girls coach since 2006. Goddard attended Kickapoo high school from 1989-1993 learning from three different coaches during that time. After high school, Goddard attended and ran for Central Missouri State University. Upon completion of his teaching certification Goddard served as an assistant under Don Keeton at Parkview High School in Springfield and also under Jon Ewing at Kickapoo before taking over as head coach.
Coach Goddard has attended Joe Bill Dixon’s Wilderness Running Camp since 2003 and believes he has learned more from attending this camp than from all other clinics he has ever attended combined, due to the intimate setting with some of Missouri's best coaches and athletes.
Goddard and his Wife Stacy have three kids: Colby, Keaton,and daughter Chloe.
Coach Burnham is currently the head Lions girls and boys cross country coach as well as the distance for their track team. Coach Burnham counsels the camper on collegiate recruiting process and offers advice for any runner who is interested in pursuing their running beyond high school.
An accomplished runner himself, Burnham was a five-time All-American for Missouri Baptist College, and in 1987 was national runner-up in the 10,000-meter run. He holds Missouri Baptist school records in the 5,000-meter run (14 minutes, 3.00 seconds), 10,000 (29:30.00), and marathon (two hours, 26.00 minutes).
Burnham also has had his share of success since completing his collegiate eligibility. A native of Carl Junction, Mo., he competed in the Dallas White Rock Marathon and New York City Ekiden Marathon Relay in 1987, finishing third and 25th, respectively, and in 1988 was 50th in the Los Angeles Marathon before competing in the United States Olympic Trials Marathon.