What is typically the strongest cross country section in NorCal?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rancho Cotate Invitational: Matt Salazar/Saskia Van Ommerman-Egberts

Thanks to Jim Crowhurst for sending the following link:
http://running.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/9738/rancho-cotate-invitational-matt-salazarsaskia-van-ommerman-egberts/ (Casa Grande sophomores take individual titles while Maria Carrillo sweeps team competition).

University of San Francisco Invitational Results and Videos

Complete men's results:  http://redcaptiming.com/2013/usfxc/130831F002.htm (Former La Costa Canyon HS runner, Eric Causey with the victory).
Complete women's results:  http://redcaptiming.com/2013/usfxc/130831F001.htm (Former Castro Valley HS runner, Kelsey Santisteban with the victory).

Videos courtesy of Kevin Selby and Flotrack:
http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/251061-U-of-San-Francisco-XC-Invitational

St. Francis Cross Country Wins Oakmont Invitational; LaRocco Defends Title

Complete results here.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The St. Francis cross country program had a strong opening meet, taking a pair of team and individual titles at the Oakmont Invitational at Maidu Park.

Senior Lauren LaRocco won the individual title for the second consecutive season with a career-best 14:02 over the 4-kilometer course.

“I am glad I have improved since last year,” said LaRocco. “The course felt short and that is good because we will be moving up to 5K. It was still a lot flatter than most of the courses we will run so it was good to ease into some of the hills.”

The Troubadours won the varsity race with 27 points, placing each of their top five student-athletes in the top 10 and three in the top five. Senior Madison Rawson was third overall in 14:29 with junior Miranda Myers close behind in fifth in a time of 14:46.

“It is a good first meet to have and helps us build up as they get harder throughout the year,” said Rawson. “Our whole team really proved ourselves this year and the summer training paid off.”

Junior Camille Boudreaux crossed the line eighth in the varsity race in 15:39, while Mallory Shingle was 10th (15:42). Junior Chloe Kardasopoulos was 12th overall.

“The varsity had a good first test,” said assistant coach Mason Myers. “Our top six had very solid performances. Lauren reset the course record on a modified course. It was a great effort by her and she had to have a lot of motivation internally.”

St. Francis won the varsity team title for the third consecutive season, placing ahead of Whitney, Del Campo and Pleasant Grove.

“One of things that kept me going was hearing “St Francis” everywhere and all the St. Francis athletes up at the front,” said LaRocco. “It hopefully sets the tone for the rest of the season that we have a lot more wins to come.”

St. Francis also won the junior varsity title with a perfect score 15 as the Troubies claimed the top five spots in the race behind winner Ariel Medina (16:31). The frosh/soph squad was second overall behind Oak Ridge.

The Troubadours return to action in two weeks at the Ed Sias Invitational on Sept. 14. St. Francis ranked among the top 15 nationally in preseason polls by both the NHSCA and DyeStat.com.

Oakmont Invitational
Maidu Park, Roseville, Calif.
Varsity Team Results
1. St. Francis                27
2. Whitney                   51
3. Del Campo               98
4. Pleasant Grove       138
5. Roseville                  155
6. Folsom                     157
7. Cosumnes Oaks      174
8. Franklin                   180
9. Oakmont                 211
10. Casa Robles          259
11. Elk Grove              268

St. Francis Varsity Individual Results
1. Lauren LaRocco               14:02
3. Madison Rawson             14:29
5. Miranda Myers               14:46
8. Camille Boudreaux         15:39
10. Mallory Shingle            15:42
12. Chloe Kardasopoulos    15:54

Junior Varsity Team Results
1. St. Francis               15
2. Oak Ridge               62
3. Del Campo              76
4. Pleasant Grove       86

Junior Varsity Individual Results (Top 5)
1. Ariel Medina            16:31
2. Megan Vollmer       18:02
3. Macie Tanaka          18:07
4. Maddy Strong         18:14
5. Amanda Larivee     18:23

Frosh/Soph Team Results
1. Oak Ridge               35
2. St. Francis               57
3. Elk Grove                99
3. Whitney                  99
5. Del Campo              153
6. Cosumnes Oaks     155
7. Folsom                    156
8. Pleasant Grove       197
9. Oakmont                 198
10. Colfax                    261

Frosh/Soph Individual Results (Top 5)
2. Chase Worthen       15:57
10. Ariane Arndt         16:58
15. Gabrielle Dyer       17:15
16. Allie Lourim           17:17
17. Juliet Batturaro     17:18

Steven Shaff
Assistant AD/Sports Information
St. Francis High School
@StFrancisHSSID

Eureka HS 400m. runner, Alexis Robinson

He was part of the gold medal winning team at the Pan American Junior Championships running 46.9.  He is fourth from right on the picture above.

You can check out the corresponding article here.

Cross country: SLV girls seek state title

Cross country: Scotts Valley’s deep team has high hopes

Friday, August 30, 2013

Teams entered in 30th Annual Monte Vista Invitational

We have over 1400 runners entered, in eight grade level races.  2.0 mile hilly course at Oak Hill Park in Danville CA.  30th year for this meet.

Results will be provided by Weds, Sept 4th (we finish late).

meet web site:  http://www.eteamz.com/mvxc/news/index.cfm?cat=286622

Let me know if you have questions.

Thank you
Mike Davis
Meet Director
Monte Vista Invitational

Monte Vista - host
Athenian
Antioch
San Ramon Valley
California
Foothill
Granada
Dougherty Valley
Livermore
Rodriguez
De La Salle
Northgate
Acalanes
Las Lomas
James Logan
Mission San Jose
Amador Valley
Burton Academic HS
Castro Valley
Heritage
San Leandro

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DyeStatCAL Pre-Season Rankings - Boys by Division

You can find the complete list at this link courtesy of Scott Joerger and www.dyestatcal.com.  We will continue to update all the divisions throughout the season.  If you have any information that you think may be helpful in ranking the following divisions, please use the comment section below or email me at albertjcaruana@gmail.com or Scott Joerger at scott.joerger@gmail.com.

Boys Division 1
# Team Sec
1 Arcadia SS
2 Long Beach Poly SS
3 Dana Hills SS
4 De La Salle NCS
5 Madera South CS
6 Warren SS
7 Loyola SS
8 California (Whittier) SS
9 Rancho Buena Vista SDS
10 Torrey Pines SDS
 
Boys Division 2
# Team Sec
1 Westlake SS
2 Redondo Union SS
3 Glendora SS
4 Canyon (Anaheim) SS
5 Del Campo SJS
6 Saugus SS
7 Carlsbad SDS
8 Dos Pueblos SS
9 Simi Valley SS
10 Tesoro SS
 
Boys Division 3
# Team Sec
1 Brea Olinda SS
2 Jurupa Hills SS
3 St. John Bosco SS
4 Palos Verdes SS
5 Cathedral SS
6 San Marcos SS
7 Campolindo NCS
8 Bishop O'Dowd NCS
9 El Modena SS
10 Bonita SS
 
Boys Division 4
# Team Sec
1 Salesian SS
2 Harvard Westlake SS
3 JSerra SS
4 Yreka NS
5 Don Bosco Tech SS
6 Laguna Beach SS
7 Crean Lutheran SS
8 Scotts Valley CCS
9 Morro Bay SS
10 Crespi SS
 
Boys Division 5
# Team Sec
1 St. Joseph Notre Dame NCS
2 Marin Academy NCS
3 La Jolla Country Day SDS
4 Flintridge Prep SS
5 Thacher SS
6 St. Margaret SS
7 Lick Wilmerding NCS
8 Athenian NCS
9 Sonoma Academy NCS
10 Priory CCS

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DyeStatCAL Pre-Season Rankings - Girls by Division

You can find the complete top 10 lists from Division I through Division V at this link (please note that SJS divisions have not been posted so possible changes may take place).

Thank you to Scott Joerger at www.dyestatcal.com for all his hard work with all the top 50 rankings as well as the Division I though Division III rankings you see below.  Comments are encouraged.  Who did we miss?  Who is under ranked?  Who is over ranked?  Who is going to be the best team overall?  Feel free to post your own rankings for any division you feel strongly about at this point.

Girls Division 1
# Team Sec
1 Great Oak SS
2 St Francis (Sacramento) SJS
3 Buchanan CS
4 Capistrano Valley SS
5 Davis Senior SJS
6 Yucaipa SS
7 Trabuco Hills SS
8 San Clemente SS
9 Clovis North CS
10 Rancho Buena Vista SDS
 
Girls Division 2
# Team Sec
1 Simi Valley SS
2 Saugus SS
3 Rancho Bernardo SDS
4 La Costa Canyon SDS
5 Serrano SS
6 Mira Costa SS
7 Bella Vista SJS
8 Arroyo Grande SS
9 South Torrance SS
10 Claremont SS
 
Girls Division 3
# Team Sec
1 Campolindo NCS
2 Bonita SS
3 Aptos CCS
4 Northwood SS
5 Palos Verdes SS
6 Cathedral Catholic SDS
7 Las Lomas NCS
8 Vista Del Lago SJS
9 Redwood NCS
10 Laguna Hills SS
 
Girls Division 4
# Team Sec
1 J Serra Catholic SS
2 Arcata NCS
3 San Lorenzo Valley CCS
4 Harvard Westlake SS
5 La Reina SS
6 Crean Lutheran SS
7 Laguna Beach SS
8 San Marino SS
9 St. Mary's Berkeley NCS
10 Piedmont NCS
 
Girls Division 5
# Team Sec
1 Branson NCS
2 Lick Wilmerding NCS
3 University NCS
4 Convent NCS
5 Flintridge Prep SS
6 Lancaster Desert Christian SS
7 Crystal Springs Uplands CCS
8 Thacher SS
9 Marin Academy NCS
10 Pacific Ridge SDS

Monday, August 26, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Boys 1 to 5

You can find the last of the team rankings at this link:
http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170961

The De La Salle boys break into the top 5 with a #5 pre-season ranking.  

Next up at www.dyestatcal.com is state divisional rankings for both boys and girls.  Find out who is ranked in the top 10 in state in each division at this time of the season.  Of course, we will have a clearer picture after a few races but it's never too early to prognosticate.  Comments are welcome and encouraged.  What NorCal teams will be ranked in the top 10 in their respective division?  Who has a shot at a podium finish?  What team is going to be the biggest surprise this coming season?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Girls 1 to 5

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170873

The best of the best in California.  As many of you figured out, St. Francis, Sacramento is one of the top 5 teams in California.  They are ranked #3 along with 4 Division I schools.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Former Tam High track coach Vezie, 81, dies

http://www.marinij.com/crosscountry/ci_23912670/former-tam-high-track-coach-vezie-81-dies (one of the pioneers for XC in the marin area (especially for girls) who should be remembered for his many contributions.  He also started the Stinson Beach Relays which will take place this season for the 50th year.  Thank you to Branson Track and Field coach Linda Gill (Tamalpais HS class of 1976) for sharing the link.  She was NCS XC champion under his guidance and encouragement).

Please also check out the site created by Linda and her daughter www.ranmarin.com.  The site is for current and past Marin runners.

Friday, August 23, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Girls 6 to 10

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170631

Two NorCal teams make this group of teams.  The #2 ranked SJS girls' team (Davis HS) on my SJS pre-season rankings makes this list at #8.  The #1 ranked team in NCS, the Campolindo girls, are ranked #10 on the California Cross Country pre-season list.

Only 5 teams remain.  Can you guess all five?

Catching up with Scotts Valley HS senior runner, Scott Edwards...

Today we chat with Scotts Valley HS senior, Scott Edwards (pictured on the left courtesy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel at this past season's CCS Top 8 Meet).  He had a terrific junior cross country season which culminated with him finishing 5th in the Division IV race at the CA state meet after finishing 5th at the CCS meet.  On the track, Scott made a real statement when he won the CCS Top 8 meet over Yohaness Estifanos in the 1600m. with a new lifetime best time by 8 seconds in 4:18.47.  He finished 2nd at the CCS meet in another PR of 4:14.99.  Scott continued his impressive season by qualifying to the state final in 4:13.42 and then finished 7th in the final with yet another PR of 4:12.55.  

1) How did you get your start in running?
I had always enjoyed running when I was a kid growing up, but I had always played soccer. In seventh grade I ran cross country as well as played soccer, but I wanted to continue playing soccer. It was not until freshman year when my older brother, Tyler the cross country captain, convinced me to run did I consider XC. Once I started high school cross country there was no going back.

2) What other sports have you played besides cross country and track and field?
I played soccer since I was five, as well as playing basketball, and baseball during little league. In middle school I gave up other recreational sports to play soccer for my club team as well as one season of school volleyball. I continued to play soccer in high school but trying to run competitively and play varsity and club soccer was too much. I quit soccer altogether after freshman year and decided to focus on running.

3) Highlights in both sports during your freshman and sophomore seasons?
The highlight of my freshman cross country season was defiantly the SCCAL league meet. Through the season I had always been chasing my older brother trying to beat him. It was not until the league meet when I came close. At Pinto Lake he placed fourth and I placed fifth in 17:00 and 17:01 respectively. Moving into track the highlight was also the league track meet. My coach wanted to win the Frosh-soph division so he kept me in the frosh-soph races. I ran the 3200, 1600, 800, 4x400 in 10:42, 4:52, and 2:11 placing first in all of the events. For my sophomore year the highlight of my xc season was the trip to the state meet as an individual. In track my best moment was running pr of 1:58.10 at the league meet and qualifying for CCS.

4) Did you do anything different during the summer before this past cross country season? Where do you feel you made your breakthrough to the next level of competition?
Leading up to the cross country season I did not really change up any of my training. I kept running six days a week with light to moderate mileage over the summer and during the off season in the winter. Where I think my breakthrough came was just uninterrupted training over the past few years. No one season or off season made the breakthrough happen, I have just put in the time.

5) Proudest accomplishments during your junior cross country season?
My proudest accomplishment was the state meet. Leading up to the meet I had a few disappointing races making me worried about the state meet. Despite that, the state meet was the best race of my season by far. I placed 5th in D IV with a time of 15:45.

6) You had some struggles during the early part of this track season. What led to those struggles and how did you turn your season around?
This track season started off with two large personal records in the 1600 and 3000. After that I had some difficulties progressively running slower times. The worst part of the season came at the Stanford meet. I was coming down with something and not feeling 100%. This caused me to run my slowest time in the 3000 and mile to date. As to what turned my season around, I do not know. At every race I just kept trying to improve my times, but it was not until CCS top 8 meet that I pr’ed.

7) What was the plan going into the CCS top 8 meet and what was your reaction to winning that 1600m.?
Going into top 8 I was just hoping to turn my season around. I was seeded 12th and had a goal of placing 5th or 6th by running between 4:20 and 4:23, a 3-6 second pr. The plan was to hold onto the middle pack and trying to kick and move up at the end. To my surprise I was less than a second or two behind the leader with 500m left. I took the chance and made my move and kicked. I was in disbelief that I ended up finishing first with a pr of eight seconds, running a 4:18. That race for me was the first time I realized that I had the ability to keep improving and be competitive with harder competition

8) The competition in CCS this year was as tough as I have seen it in a long time. What was the plan going into the semis and finals?
My plan for the semis of CCS was to run just fast enough to safely qualify for the finals. To do that I planned on pacing with the pack and using my closing speed to ensure that I qualified. That went as planned and I used the same plan for the finals. I wanted to stay with the pack until there is 400m left and kick it in. By following this plan I was able to finish second and qualify for the state meet

9) Tell us a little about your state meet experience and describe both races. What did you learn from your state meet final race?
Going to the state meet for me had been my goal all season and now that I had made it I was content with however it went. That being said I still wanted to do the best I could. Going into the prelims I personally did not have high hopes of making it to the next day, but the plan was to kick my way into the finals. I had been worried because of the heat but told myself to just go out there and act like this is any other race. With that in mind I was able to run a new pr and qualify for the finals. The final was somewhere I didn’t think I was going to be, but I embraced the opportunity. The pace for the two state races was faster than I had gone out ever for a mile but I assumed that was going to be the case. Holding on and kicking was my plan and in the finals, and that was working for me 800 into the race. With just over a lap and a half to go the leaders took off pulling everyone with them. I quickly fell to last place exhausted. The last lap came around so I gave every last bit into my kick. I was able to pull back into seventh place in a time of 4:12.55.

10) Tell us a little about your coach and how he has helped you develop into the runner you are today.
My coach, Doug Chase, has been in coaching for forty years. He coached for thirty years in Illinois and retired to Santa Cruz. With his love for the sport he couldn’t stay retired long and started to coach at Scotts Valley. Much of my love for running has been instilled from him and his coaching. From the day I first came to practice he took a personal interest in every runner. He trains us to our own personal limits, but always knows how to inspire us to break those confinements when it counts. He helped get me where I am now, and will continue to motivate me throughout my college career.

11) Favorite track distance? Favorite track workout? Favorite long run? Favorite track invitational? Favorite XC invite? Favorite XC course? Favorite opponent(s)?
My favorite distance in track has changed year to year. This year it was the mile, but last it was the 800m. That being said I do not think I have picked my favorite quite yet. As track workouts go, my favorite has to be either 400m or 800m, while for long runs I love any run in Nisene Marks or Henry Cowell. My favorite invite has to be the state cross country meet just because of the memories and experiences made with the team. As for my opponents, I respect each and every one of them but do not really have one rival or favorite opponent.

12) What does a typical week look like for you during track season from Monday through Saturday? Typical long run distance? Pace of easy runs?
A typical week of training really depends on what races are coming up. Starting from the beginning of the week, we usually do a workout on either Monday or Tuesday depending on if there is a Thursday meet. A distance run during the season usually is anywhere from 45-60 minutes long at talking pace. We will do a pre-meet the day before a race and do a recovery day after races and hard workouts. Most of the training depends on what races are being run what days.

13) What do you feel have been the workouts that have been the biggest contributors for your success this past track season?
I am a big believer that no one or two workouts make you a better runner, and that it is about the consistent training. That being said, my best workouts this past season have to be a four mile threshold run in Nisene marks, or 400m threshold work.

14) What advice would you give for a rising freshman/sophomore who aspires to compete at either the state xc or track and field meets?
I would tell them that so long as you put in the time it can be done. I was an alright runner as a freshman and sophomore but it wasn’t until junior year that I really shined. The biggest part is to train during the off season. What made the difference for me was I came to love running and everything that comes with it.

Thank you very much for your time Scott!  AJC

Thursday, August 22, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Boys 11 to 20

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170481

One NorCal team made the list at #20 and that is the top ranked team in the SJS, the Del Campo Cougars.  Only ten teams remain and I believe one NorCal team will make that list.

2013 Cross Country Season

I know many of you are excited about the upcoming XC season.  Here is your chance to share that excitement with the rest of this site's visitors.  

What race are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?  
What are your goals?  
Who are going to be some of the biggest surprises?  
Who are runners we should watch out for because they did work this summer?  
Who are the podium contenders?
Who are the transfers we don't know about?
Who are the impact freshmen?
What else?  

Here is your chance to speak up!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Athlete Interview - Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Girls 11 to 20

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170348

One NorCal team makes this list and it's a SJS school.  The Bella Vista girls are the #16th ranked team in the pre-season according to www.dyestatcal.com.  Only 10 teams remain.  Who are the NorCal teams will crack the top 10 list.  2 have been mentioned already and another should make the list as well.  

20-11 boys will be posted tomorrow.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Girls 21 to 30

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=170081

Only one NorCal team ranked between 30 and 21 and that is Aptos HS at #22.  I have them as the best team in CCS so my best guess is that Davis HS and St. Francis (Sac) are the two lone teams remaining that will be ranked in the top 20.

We'll see.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

National Rankings (www.tullyrunners.com)

Courtesy of tullyrunners.com:
Boys:  http://tullyrunners.com/XC2013/PreSeasonNatBoys2013.htm
Girls:  http://tullyrunners.com/XC2013/PreSeasonNatGirls2013.htm

De La Salle is the lone NorCal team mentioned as they make the 2nd list which consists teams that were not listed in the top 30.

Two Sac-Joaquin Section girl's teams make the list with St. Francis (Sac.) coming in at 15th and Davis HS mentioned in the second tier group.

So Cal High School Coach Named Brooks Running 2013 Inspiring Coach

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Boys 31 to 40

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=169995

Two more NorCal teams ranked in the latest rankings:
#36-Livermore HS-NCS Division II
#34-Davis HS-SJS Division I

So far, here are the other NorCal teams ranked in the top 50:
#47-Marin Academy-NCS Division V
#45-Los Altos-CCS Division II
#42-Bishop O'Dowd-NCS Division III
#41-Campolindo-NCS Division III

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

DyeStatCAL Top 50 Countdown - Boys 41 to 50

http://www.dyestatcal.com/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=44789&do=news&news_id=169711

4 NorCal teams ranked so far:
47-Marin Academy-NCS Division V
45-Los Altos-CCS Division II
42-Bishop O'Dowd-NCS Division III
41-Campolindo-NCS Division III

Also thanks to a sharp eyed reader, the following schools were deemed bubble teams:
Casa Grande-NCS Division II
Maria Carrillo-NCS Division II
Redwood-NCS Division III
St Francis (Mountain View)-CCS Division II

Woodcreek-SJS Division I

Who else is going to be ranked in the top 50 in state?

San Jose teen surprising long-distance racer

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Catching up with Valley Christian SJ coach, Josh Small...

Today we chat with Valley Christian SJ head cross country and track and field coach, Josh Small.  He has been the head cross country coach for several years and took over the helm of the track and field team this past season.  Josh has experienced it all as a high school, junior college, college and post collegiate competitor with the Nike Farm team.  He coached two time Collegiate 10000m. All-American Jen Bergman in high school as a junior and senior.  He's also a long suffering San Jose Sharks fan and one of these years, that playoff beard is going to work!

1.      How did you get your start in running?  What other sports did you play besides cross country and track and field?
I grew up in the small town of Hood River, Oregon which at the time had a population of about three-thousand people.  Sitting on the Columbia Gorge it is famous for windsurfing, apples and amazing fishing.  I guess you could say I was born a runner and was very active as a child.  All of us were.  The neighborhood kids ran around everywhere, we were always outside, when we weren’t on foot we were riding our bikes around town.  The only rule was to be home before dark; somehow we always made it back in one piece.

My first race was in sixth grade.  Every year Hood River Junior High (there was only one in the whole town) would have a scrimmage against the school from the next town over in Odell.  I entered the 400 meters, which was the second longest event of the day. I vividly remember the adrenaline of lining up at the start, the sound of cinder under my feet, and the cold wind in my face and the surreal feeling of coming down the home straight.  I have been at it ever since.  Running was an outlet for me, I just felt at peace out there on the trails.  I still do.

2.      Tell us a little about your high school experiences.  Highlights?  What did you learn from those experiences?
I graduated from Santa Cruz High School and humbly was an average runner at best, hitting 4:36 for the mile and 9:59 for 2 miles.  I had six different coaches through my four years of Track and Cross Country, many whom were knowledgeable and good athletes themselves but there was not the consistency you desire as an athlete.  I had to be internally focused and driven as a runner. From the start I was a student of the sport, reading and designing training plans for myself.  What I needed most was to close the books and trust my coaches and my training, but that was difficult for an impatient teenager with a new coach every season. I was always second guessing and trying something new. What I needed more than anything was to not over think it and just get out there with my team and be consistent day after day.

3.      What about your experience in college?  Highlights?  What did you learn from that experience?

After I graduated high school my parents made it clear that if I wanted to go to college I had to pay for it myself. All I knew is that I wanted to keep running. No one understood it, they said that running was a waste of time and I should get a job; that running wouldn't take me anywhere.  But I felt strongly this was what I wanted to do so I took a part-time job that worked around my practice schedule and enrolled in Cabrillo College to run for Coach Brock.  After one season the school dropped the track program so I moved to Monterey and transferred to Hartnell College, a top program in Northern California coached by Gary Shaw.  Things started to click in college, my times dropped and I earned a full scholarship to Fresno Pacific University where I graduated with a degree in Kinesiology.

I formulated a lot of my own training philosophies during this time from personal experiences and the amazing coaches I had. At Hartnell we won two Northern California Cross Country Championships, at Fresno Pacific we were ranked in the top 25 nationally and I won the conference title at 10,000 meters. The successes were memorable but what I value most is the time with my team.  I learned that there is power in a group of competitive individuals working toward a common goal, that selfish motivations are trumped by selfless ones.  There is no greater testament of this than the family-like bond you create with your teammates.  We were together all the time and are friends to this day.

4.      You ran on the Farm Team after college.  Who coached you and what did you take away from that experience?
After graduating I still felt I had not reached my potential as a runner, so I turned down a graduate assistant job and moved to the Bay Area in hopes of being able to train with the Nike Farm Team.  Much like High School I was an average collegiate runner who had no business being on that team but Jeff Johnson welcomed me into the group. After that summer Vin Lananna took over for the next few years. Gags and Jack Daniels came in soon after.

There were two training groups on the Farm Team, the "A" group that consisted of people who were shooting to compete at the world level and the "B" group that were shooting to compete at the national level.  Then there was the band of misfits I was a part of.  We dubbed ourselves the unofficial "C" team, for "Team Cutters," because quite frankly we should have been cut. One workout I remember well is when the guys in the top group unexpectedly joined us.  There was Brad and Brent Hauser, JJ White, Nathan Nutter, Jason Balkman, Greg Jimmerson (just to name a few) who were coming back from a summer of racing in Europe, others the Olympics.  Somewhere in the middle of the workout it was my turn to lead and what resulted were perhaps the greatest few intervals of my life.  We were the guys off the back trying to keep up.  We never asked questions, just put our head down and did the work. It was fun and I was running faster than I ever had before. The first thing I noticed was the talent and work ethic of the athletes there. I am thankful to this day for my opportunity to be a part of that day in and day out, even as an outsider just running for my life.

Out there I trained harder than I ever thought possible, but lost the idea of recovery.  In the zeal to keep up I pushed my limits and the miles.  I was running my personal bests in practice but my racing suffered as I left a lot out there in practice. A good friend and "training partner" Jureg Stalder (who owns a 28:06 personal best at 10k) took me through some of the most brutal workouts I have ever experienced but also emphasized the need to recover and adapt from the hard work. If anything the most valuable lesson is that you can train hard, and not to be afraid of it, but also train smart and listen to your body.  It is often an art as much as it is a science.

5.      What led you into coaching?  Who have been your biggest coaching mentors
The passion to coach has always been there.  Looking back, even as an athlete I had a coach’s mindset and approach to my training. Coach Greg Brock who is now at Santa Cruz High School has been an influential person in my coaching and my life. Not only was he an amazing runner in his day competing for Stanford, but he is a Zen like approach as a coach.  He always had an open door and I would often stop by his house just to talk.  He was a great mentor and still is to this day. It probably drove his wife crazy stopping by as I did.

He doesn't remember this but during one of our many conversations he once told me, "It is better to be 90% fit and 100% healthy than 100% fit and 90% healthy."  The principle behind that is coaching to the individual.  Consistency of training is key in distance running, you can't run your best over-trained and injured.  It is a delicate balance. Most importantly he taught me that coaching is more than putting together training. It is about being there for your athletes and taking an interest in their lives off the track.

6.      What was your first experience coaching?  Highlights?  What did you learn from that experience?
My first coaching job was as distance coach for Notre Dame Salinas during a redshirt season at Hartnell.  It was a great season as we set some school records and made it to the CCS Finals in the 800.  I also had a short stint at Harker, in which we qualified for the State Championships in cross country. Each school has its own culture and challenges, but at the heart of it all kids had this in common: they want someone to believe in them.

7.      What do you do besides coaching (ie. what pays the bills)?
I have been in education since 2000.  I taught Biology and Earth Science for 9 years before moving to Physical Education which is what I teach now.

8.      How did you end up at Valley Christian SJ?  What was the state of the program before you started there?
Valley Christian is a high level academic institution whose philosophy of education and ideology matches with mine as an educator. I was encouraged by my wife, a graduate of Valley Christian to apply. 

The student-athlete here is generally motivated athletically and involved in many other activities such as the participating in our integrated science, math and engineering program, our music conservatory, robotics program, and various academic clubs and AP courses. So they are busy.  The team had experienced success with top finishes in track and field and women's cross country. I started as an assistant under Coach Jonathan Lee who had done an amazing job establishing a passion for running and core philosophy that we hold to this day. Team culture is something that evolves over time and something we are still working on. It has ebbs and flows and changes with us as we mature as coaches, a community and a team.

9.      Jen Bergman recorded another All-American performance at the recently completed NCAA meet.  Tell us a little about her high school career and did you envision some of her success at the University of Arizona?
I was very blessed to have coached such a talented and dedicated athlete so early in my coaching career.  I started coaching Jennifer her junior year, she had missed her sophomore track year due to a knee injury in the growth plate known as Osgood–Schlatters. At the start of the season I sat down with her and her parents and discussed our training and racing goals for the upcoming year. My goal was to run as fast as we could without risking her health.  If needed our times would be sacrificed to remain injury free with the goal of building a base for her senior year. 

Keep in mind Jennifer was very young as a junior at only 15 years old.  Due to her knee issues that summer we did no running and supplemented with pool running every day.  This was not time just floating around in the pool. These were difficult workouts that would last upwards of 1.5-2 hours with a high level of intensity.  While some may use a running belt to help float and hold form, she used diving weights to make it more challenging. It takes a special kind of athlete to do that kind of work in the pool day in and day out, to remain focused and not lose heart.  By that fall we began running 2-3 days a week and continued to supplement with pool workouts. In the end it was good enough to win CCS and finish second place at state.

As a senior Jennifer went on to win CCS and qualify for the Footlocker Nationals with a 6th place finish in the West Region qualifier at Mt. Sac. Obviously she was an accomplished runner but if there was ever a hint at her future success it was in her resilience. Every time she experienced a setback she came back stronger and more determined.

Her senior track season things were clicking but after a sluggish race she was diagnosed with Mono. After her disappointing end to her senior year, and the second straight year ending in tears, I told her that there were bigger races in her future.  We had a good idea she was going to be good, but I had no idea those bigger races would come so soon as she led her team at the NCAA Cross Country Championships her Freshman year (at age 17) and went on to finish third in the 10,000 meters as a sophomore.  She was a ferocious cross country runner, as seen qualifying for footlocker in high school; she just had bad luck on the track.  She is now a four time All-American, PAC-12 champion and finished 8th at USATF championships in June.  She also just signed a contract to run professionally for Mizuno, so I guess she's doing ok.

10.  What would you say have been some of the biggest changes when it comes to training from your own running in high school to what your runners do today?
Tempo runs. They are nothing new but in the 90's we just didn't do them.

11.  Once cross country season gets rolling (late September/early October), what does a typical training week look like for your team with a Saturday race?
While the core philosophy of what we do hasn't changed, every year is a little different based on the needs of the athletes. While days shift around based on scheduling this is very general program of what we do, which I'm assuming is similar to what every other program in the country does as well.

Monday-
Fartlek / VO2 Max / Lactate Tolerance
(Something hard, varied race pace, etc.)

Tuesday-
Trail Run, 60-70% vVO2

Wednesday-
Mid-Long Run / Training Run + Hill Sprints or Strides

Thursday-
Threshold, 70-85% vVO2 / Cruise Intervals / Speed
(Sometimes threshold, sometimes something fast)

Friday-

Trail Run, 60-70% vVO2
Saturday-
Race


12.  What changes as you get closer to the section meet?
When October finally rolls around we move into our competitive phase of training in preparation for the league, section and state meets.  Throughout the macrocycle we try to touch upon every energy system in each phase of training but emphasize different components. Traditionally our focus shifts from elevating the lactate threshold to placing a greater emphasis on VO2 Max. 

We also try to get on to the championship course a few times to do our workouts. Outside of that we change very little of what we do.  We keep pushing all the way to the end, reducing mileage and increasing intensity 7-10 days before the goal race. The key is getting to the end of the season healthy, adapting to the work and staying consistent through the season.

13.  Aside from the running, what other exercises do the runners do that you feel are just as important for their improved racing times?
For the record I believe that if you want to be better at running, you have to run, there is just no way around it. But the biggest thing we do outside of our training regimen is morning pool workouts. We also do simple plyometrics, hurdle drills, etc.  A key aspect to training is recovery, we encourage rolling out sore muscles and ice baths after key workouts.

This year at Valley Christian we have hired a director of human performance.  We are excited to bring his expertise and passion into the weight room.

14.  For the coaches that want to be successful at the section and state meet levels, what would you say are the keys to getting to that level?
I'm a firm believer that a coach's job is to spur internal motivation, not be the motivation. It is our job to inspire and teach athletes to love the sport. The aura of running for team rather than self is a powerful thing.  A selfless athlete will push themselves well beyond what they could ever do out of selfish motivations.  Teach the athletes to love and run for one another.  Each person on your team has a role and responsibility as a member of that team. For some it may be in leadership, others work ethic, others compassion. Draw out the best in each athlete not just in performance but their character as well.

You need to be true to who you are as a person, you can't fake it. You have to coach to your personality. You can't emulate another successful coach or mirror their training. Different kids, different culture.

15.  Anything else you would like to add.
Never stop learning.  My conversations and runs with Chris Puppione, Craig Lee, Jim Meyer, you and so many others and have helped me grow as a coach exponentially.  Never stop striving to be better. Try something new every year.  Be willing to throw it all away and start over. Teach the love of running and the sport.

Thank you Albert for all you do.  You are promoting and growing the sport, you are doing a good thing here!

Thank you for your time Josh!  AJC

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