Friday, October 05, 2007

Catching up with Davis Coach Bill Gregg


We'll get right to the interview with the coach, Bill Gregg, of one of the strongest cross country programs in Northern California. Last year, the Davis High Boys finished 3rd. in Division I at the state meet to the amazement of many folks involved in XC (Picture above, courtesy of the Davis High XC Website). The Davis girls finished a highly respectable 6th and with the majority of that team returning, the girls will be looking to make their way to the podium as the boys did last year.

1) How long have you been coaching at Davis? Where did you get your start in coaching? What is your occupation?
I've been coaching cross country and track at Davis High since 1997. My first paid coaching job was in the summer of 1978 - I coached a summer swim team in Quincy, CA. I coached there for seven summers. For my "real" job, I am the Finance Director at the Foundation for Teaching Economics. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides teaching resources for high school social studies teachers and leadership programs for high school students.
The Foundation's website is [ http://www.fte.org ]

2) Who do you consider your coaching mentors?
Chuck Sheley - he was my cross country and track coach at Chico Senior High school.

Ernie Maglischo - he was my swim coach on the Chico Aqua Jets swim team.

Sue Williams - former UC Davis womens cross country and track coach. I was an assistant coach at UC Davis from 1983-1989.

Steve Chavez (Murrieta Valley) - Steve's clinic in January of 2005 inspired me to make changes in our program which has brought us to where we are today.

3) How was your first year coaching at Davis? What was the transition like from the previous coaching regime?
In 1997 I was the assistant coach for Davis High head coach, Robin Heidt. She and I worked very well together. Robin accepted a teaching position at Woodside High in the summer of 1998. I accepted the offer to be head coach at Davis High after Robin left. It was pretty much a seamless transition.

4) Can you identify a runner or runners that took Davis Cross Country to a whole new level?
Luke Gibson, who was third at the state xc meet in 2000, and Sarah West, who was third in the state xc meet in 2001. As of late, I would include Chelsea Reilly, Laurynne Chetelat, and Brendan Gregg.

5) Do you consider your program to be low, medium or a high mileage program?
I would say we are a medium mileage program. Boys 40-50 miles per week. Girls 35-45 miles per week.

6) Describe your training around Davis HS? Is it mostly roads? trails? Do you get on the track during cross country?
We run 90-95% on grass and dirt. The city of Davis has a large green belt system with loads of grass. We are close enough to edge of town to run on dirt roads in the farm fields as well. We don't get on the track at all during cross country.

7) How are you and the runners dealing with the expectations following the success of last year's teams?
Boys - trying to reload but still expecting a successful season.
Girls - they were a little disappointed at last year's state meet and are looking to take things to a higher level this year.

8) What do you do to recruit runners to run for your team? What do you think are the most important aspects in keeping kids running for your team all four years?
Recruiting, if you can call it that, is mostly word of mouth. The team has a reputation for success, but also for having a lot of fun. I suspect it's the "fun" part that gets a lot of people to join the team. Each season is a building block, so if one sees improvement from the previous year, it's more likely they'll come back for more. I think having a website has helped a lot, also. The team's website is [ http://www.dhscrosscountry.com ]

9) What race stands out in your mind as the highlight for Davis Cross Country?
In general and from year to year, it's always Mt. SAC, Sac-Joaquin Section championships, and the state meet. The two meets that are highlights from last year are Brendan's win at Stanford and the boys' third place team performance at the state championships.

10) How was it coaching your son the past four years?
Actually, our oldest daughter, Kaitlin, was on the team for four years as well. This year is first time in six years that there haven’t been any Gregg kids on the team. The last four years with Brendan were great. It was a blessing to be so involved and to be able to share in his success. We never really pushed Brendan to be a runner. It just sort of happened. His mother maintains that all we ever talked about at home was running!

11) How do this year's teams compare to last year? Who are your biggest challengers in league and the SJS?
Boys could be nearly as fast as last year if a 5th runner rises to the task. Kenny Durell and Matt Petersen are having breakout seasons. Matt's brother, Drew, had a great race at the Yolo County meet and I'll know we'll see more from him down the line. A new runner on our team, Corey Coates, is a fine runner himself, so our top four are really solid. Jesuit and Sheldon will push us hard and it's going be a dogfight for our section's two berths to the state meet.

Laurynne Chetelat leads girls. Jonah Weeks, Maddie Hall, Nora Norvell, Emily Dimond, and Juliana Green are stepping up and the girls can be even better than they were last year. Folsom High will probably be the toughest challenger for the girls at the section meet.

12) If you would like to add anything else.
Thanks for your interest in our program!

Thank you very much Bill! AJC

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