Monday, December 14, 2009

Catching up with San Francisco City College coach, Marc Dyer...

Today we chat with San Francisco City College coach, Marc Dyer. His men's cross country team this year won the Coast Conference and NorCal Community College Championship. They finished in 4th place at the California State JC championship meet, the school's highest finish ever. Marc is a former CCSF runner who also attended high school in San Francisco at Washington HS. This year, his xc team consisted of local runners who were able to extend their running careers at the junior college level while keeping their hopes alive of competing at four year colleges. Marc has done a terrific job in his short time at CCSF and I thank him for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview.

1) What was your running background and how did you get started?
My dad used to run for fitness and his one of his good friends ran cross country and track for USC. Seeing them run got me interested in the sport when I was younger. My actual running career started sophomore year at Washington High School in San Francisco. I was like most SF public school kids, I ran about 4 days a week and only ran during the season. I ran cross country my sophomore, junior, and senior years. My senior year I got a little more serious about running and ran track for the first time.

2) Tell us about your own running in college?
I ran cross country and track at City College of San Francisco. After CCSF I transferred to Cal Poly Pomona and was able to walk on to the team there and continue my running. In track I ran the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m. Being part of two very different teams helped me learn a lot about the sport and different training systems. At CCSF we ran lower mileage higher quality. Cal Poly Pomona was higher mileage training. My experiences as a transfer student heavily influence the training my athletes do today.

3) How and who inspired you to coach?
My coaches at CCSF were the ones that encouraged me to get into coaching- Adam Lucarelli, Sean Laughlin, and Doug Owyang. My freshman year at City I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I liked running but that was about it. I saw how much those guys enjoyed coaching and I knew it was something I wanted to do.

4) When you first started coaching, who did you consider to be your mentors?
Adam, Sean, and Doug were my early mentors. Tony Kauke and Al Berrin have also given me some great advice along the way as well.

5) What was the state of the CCSF cross country and track and field (distance runners) teams?
Right before I started at CCSF the men's track team had won three consecutive state team titles (2004, 2005, 2006). The men's and women's cross country teams also had some success placing third at nor cal and ninth in the state in 2004. Tony Kauke, who coached the mid distance/distance runners before I started, really laid the foundation for the success that we are having today.

6) How many years have you coached at CCSF and what are some of your team's accomplishments?
I'm in my third year coaching at CCSF. Our men's cross country team placed fourth in the state this year(CCSF's highest finish ever). We've won our conference championships the past two years and we've won the nor cal championships the past two years. On the women's side we have qualified to the state meet twice as a team(07, 09). Our highest conference finish was second(07) and our highest nor cal finish was fifth(07). We have also had a number of all conference and all nor cal runners as well.

In track we've been pretty successful and have had numerous state qualifiers in the distance events. Last season Chris Gerber finished second place at the state meet in the steeplechase(only his second season running track!).

7) Tell us a little about this year's team (high schools they attended) and some of their accomplishments?
I'm very fortunate to have such a dedicated and fun group of athletes to work with. We have athletes from June Jordan, Lincoln, Mercy, Redwood, Riordan, School of the Arts, Terra Nova, Washington, and Westmoor. Our sophomore guys who led us to two conference and nor cal championships were 10:04-10:33 3200m runners in high school. They've been very consistent and have improved quite a bit since high school.

Here are a few highlights from our current group-

All Conference Cross Country- Danielle Juarez(08,09), Sloane Cook(08, 09), Fernando Diaz (08), Luke Frazier(08, 09), Mark Frazier(08, 09), Benny Willers (09), David Urista (09).

All Nor Cal Cross Country- Fernando Diaz(08), Luke Frazier(08), Mark Frazier (08, 09), Benny Willers (09)

Top 20 at State- Fernando Diaz(09)

Track State Meet Qualifiers- Sloane Cook (10k), Fernando Diaz(5k), Luke Frazier(10k, steeple), Mark Fraizer(10k, 5k, steeple)

Most improved- Benny Willers. Benny ran 10:26 in the 3200 at Riordan. This season he ran 5:10 pace on the Crystal Springs jc course (4.2 miles)! His high school best at Crystal Springs was 16:31(5:36 pace).

8) What so you think are some of the differences with coaching athletes for only two years in the junior college level as opposed to four years in high school or at one college?
I don't think there is a difference in terms of training. It would be great to coach these athletes for more than two years, but we take a lot of pride in seeing them transfer and compete at the four year level.

9) What are some of your selling points in convincing high school runners to attend your school?
Our main points are that you can get two extra years of development as well as saving a lot of money. You can become a much better athlete in two years, and on top of that California junior colleges are only $26 per unit. For two years of school you are spending less than $2000, that's a great deal!

10) Tell us a little bit about your training program. Mileage for freshmen? sophomores? running areas? favorite cross country workouts?
Our main training areas are Golden Gate Park and San Bruno Mountain. Mileage is different for each individual depending on your high school background and durability. Our lower mileage guys run 40-50 miles a week, our higher mileage guys run 70-80 miles per week. We also follow a strength training plan that our jumps/hurdles coach, Greg Bianchi, put together for us.

Our cross country training is pretty simple. During the week we have three main workouts- a tempo run, intervals, and a long run. Our other days are pretty easy mileage. Tempo sessions are 4-5 miles for freshman, 5-6 for sophomores. These will be either mile repeats with one minute rest or a continuous run. We always finish off our tempo workouts with 4x200m or 3x300 @ 1500 effort. We use the Daniels vdot tables to establish tempo paces. Our interval workouts are either 800s, mile repeats, or timed fartlek runs (ex. 8x3 min hard with 2 min jog recovery). Long runs are 90 minutes for the freshman, 2 hours for the sophomores.

My favorite cross country interval workout is the one we do at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. We start off with 4x800m on a 4 min cycle, then do 4x500m hill repeats on a 3:30 cycle, then back to 4x800m on a 4 min cycle. This workout does a good job of simulating our cross country races.

During track we up the intensity a bit. We'll start the season with a tempo run and a fartlek workout on our cross country course once a week. As the season progresses we start getting event specific. The athletes will break up into their event groups- 5k/10k, 1500/steeple/5k, and 800/1500 and we'll go from there. Everyone will spend time training at paces above and below their race distances.

11) What is it going to take for Northern CA junior college programs to compete with the junior colleges down south?
I think the nor cal teams are doing a good job of competing with the south. Our team time at the state meet this year would have placed us third in 07 and 08, second in 02 and 03, and we would have won in 05. In 04 and 06 we would have taken fourth. This year at state the north did pretty well placing four teams in the top ten in both men's and women's races. In addition to that the north had the men's state champ, Danny Tapia from Hartnell College (North Monterey County High).

12) Anything else you would like to add.
You can follow California community college results on cal), cal), and lists).

Thank you very much Marc! AJC


Anonymous said...

Hey nice to see an article about community college xc and t/f.

I have a quick question though.
So I completed 2 years of xc and 1 season of t/f at my local community college, but then I transfer to a 4 year school to finish off my bachelor. But did not compete there. Now i'm planning to go back for 1 year to get extra units so I can sit for the CPA exam(requires 5 year of schooling). During that time I was wondering if I had 1 more year of t/f left that I could compete in?

Albert Caruana said...

Answer coming shortly unless somebody else reading this knows and wants to post.

Thank you.

Marc Dyer said...

You should have one more track season at the community college level. Check with your local team's coach-

Marc Dyer

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