The other shoe has finally dropped for the beleaguered Carlmont long-distance running team. First, Ben Heck, who won the Peninsula Athletic League championship and finished second at Central Coast Section, quit the cross country team before the state championship race and did not go out for the track team.
Now, Jessie Petersen, a cross country standout in her own right and two-time defending CCS 3,200-meter champion, departed the track squad.
All over the heavy-handed and unbending way they - and the other long distance runners - have been treated by a new coaching staff and the school administration which apparently supports it. It appears all those runners who trained under former coach Jeff Gilkey - who was fired late in the 2008 cross country season - are being systematically eliminated from the squad, either through ridiculous contract requests or what is deemed sub-par coaching.
I understand the firing of Gilkey. What he did - entering a runner under the name of another - was wrong. He deserved to be fired. While he may no longer coach the Carlmont school team, a number of Carlmont runners continue to train with Gilkey for his club running team. The Carlmont administration and coaching staff don’t like that, so they tried to foist on the runners a contract which forbids them any kind of outside training or advice. Doing so would result in being kicked off the team.
It appears the coaching staff - and by extension, the school administration - has a vendetta against Gilkey and are taking it out on the kids who just want to run and train to be the best they can be.
How refreshing. In a day and age when many student-athletes are looking for ways to jake it during practice, here is a group that wants to work harder and they are being denied, in the name of keeping them from hurting themselves. There have been rumblings over the years the Carlmont runners put on too much mileage in high school and they have nothing left and break down in college. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but is it possible, in this vast country of ours, that there are cross country and track runners who are far and away better than the kids coming out of Carlmont?
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