What is typically the strongest cross country section in NorCal?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Catching up with McKinleyville runner, Morgin Coonfield...

Today we chat with McKinleyville sophomore runner, Morgin Coonfield.  This past Saturday at the California State Cross Country meet, Morgin made the podium by finishing in 3rd place in the Division IV race with a time of 18:05.  The previous Saturday at the NCS meet, Morgin won the Division IV race by a wide margin and recorded the 3rd fastest time in the entire meet (17:33) over the 3 mile Hayward course.  During her freshman track season, Morgin ran an inspired race at the NCS MOC meet to qualify for the State Track and Field meet as the 2nd finisher in 10:48.22.  

1)  How did you get your start in running?  What was the first success that you remember?
I don’t think there is an exact moment when I started running. Neither of my parents were runners and I didn’t know anyone who had ever run before. When I was little, I would jog with my dog sometimes and I would wear jeans because I didn’t have any shorts. I just felt like going on a run. In 5th grade, I joined “Track”, but really I just rolled around in the grass. The coach got me to run a local race that was two miles and I showed up late. I missed the two mile turn and ended up running 5 miles. It look like 100 minutes but I finished it without walking. I stopped running completely for awhile and convinced myself I hated it. Then in 8th grade, I started running again but this time a little more seriously Jason Lewis gave me the summer training papers to prepare for the cross country season. He wasn't that excited about me because he just thought I would be a solid runner that he could use as a third runner. We haven’t been able to get enough girls to run to form a team since the the team qualified to state in 2011. He thought that maybe if I worked really hard, I could qualify to state in cross country my junior or senior year.

The first success I had was a Six Rivers Running Club three mile race. I ran a 19:33 right before the start of the season. That’s when Jason and everyone else realized that I was a little bit better than they thought I was.

2)  What other sports have you participated in besides cross country and track and field?
I’ve never done any other sports. I was completely clueless of sports even running. I had no clue what a 5k or a marathon was.

3)  As a freshman last cross country season, who were the runners that you looked up to and tried to emulate (on your own team or on other teams)?
Last season I really looked up to my coaches. Zinzy is our assistant coach, he’s 64 and still runs every day. I see him almost every morning on my way to school. He’s also one of the coolest people I know. I didn’t really know any runners out of my area. I didn’t really look up to Chloe Pigg, I just wanted to beat her.

4)  What do you feel were your best cross country races as a freshman?  Highlights?
The Stanford Invitational was my best race. I didn’t have a goal for that race. I was told to just race it. I got 10th and nobody expected that.

A highlight, one time we were going on a long run around the middle of the season. I was going to run 9 miles, but Jason was making one of the guys on the team run with the top group for an 11 mile run. The teammate made me do it because we were around the same speed. I had ran 10 miles before so 11 wouldn’t be that bad. We got really close to the point where the trail gets back onto the road and then we got turned around by the Green Diamond workers. The run ended up being 14 miles and Jason was letting us walk a little because most of us were not ready for that. That’s what we get for trespassing.

5)  What were your goals last year going into the Track and Field season?
My goals for the season were to run 5:10 in the 1600m and 11:00 in the 3200m. State was something I thought I didn't have a shot to qualifying for, but I was hoping I would by my sophomore season. Jason told me that it could happen and not to assume I wasn’t going to make it. One of the things he told me was that it’s not who wins the rankings, it’s who wins the race that day. Also, the H-DN league records for 1600m (5:06) and 3200m (10:50) were never goals. I just accidentally broke them trying to go after other goals.

6)  Tell us a little about the NCS MOC 3200m. race.  What was your plan going into that race and how did the race unfold for you?  What did you learn from your state meet experience in track?
The goal was to run a 80 second first lap and the rest was to be decided by the other runners. I was definitely going for top three so I could go to state. I ran a 5:05 1600m and knew I had a chance. The fastest I had ran was 11:02, three weeks before MOC.

I knew people would fall back in the second mile of the race, so I didn’t start going for 3rd right from the start. The first mile (5:20) was almost perfect. I wasn’t feeling bad and I could feel the group slowing down on the 5th lap. I didn’t want to slow down so I got in front. That didn’t last long, but I didn’t care when Brighie passed me because the goal was top three and I was hoping I could hang onto one of the two spots left. Then another girl came along and we would switch places often during the second mile. I finally got her in the last 100m for good. I didn’t know if anyone was behind me and I thought if I could pass this girl and another person comes along and beats me, then I’ll still be in 3rd. I was not known to have a good kick and one girl earlier in the season found a way to use that to her advantage and beat me. I finally figured it out at County Prelims.

The state meet in track was a bad day. I ended up crying on my coach’s shoulder after the race. I think I just freaked out when I saw all the girls ahead of me. I looked across the turn and that’s when I broke. I was so spaced out, I didn’t even know I was on the last lap until the last 50m. I don’t get many chances to go to big meets. I think that was one of the causes because I wasn’t prepared for that race. My focus that whole week was all over the place too. I don’t know if that played a part in it.

7)  What did you do different this summer to prepare for cross country?
I lifted weights a lot. Last year after cross country I couldn’t even do a bodyweight squat. My coach thought I was just being a spazz at first. So he had me do a squat on my toes. The throwing coach got behind me and pulled my heels down and I actually fell backwards. Now I’m doing 3 sets of 10 reps with 105 lbs bar on my shoulder and my body weight is 92 lbs. My freshman year I would work really hard in workouts, but whenever we were in the weight room I was good at getting out of work. I hated it so much. Now I’m always trying to get my coach to open it up for me. Last night I was asking him to open it so I can work on my abs and arms.

My long runs also got up to 13 miles when before they were 10 miles. Nothing else really changed.

8) Looking back at your season, what do you feel was your best race?
My best race was the West Valley Invitational because I was completely dead the last quarter mile. I might have broke the meet record but it was so close that people are all saying different times and I have no clue if I actually broke it. Some results say I ran 18:06 and tied it and others say I ran 18:05. But the reason I think it’s the best is because I was so dead after it not because of the record.

9)  Tell us a little about the state meet race.  What were your expectations going into the race and how well did you know your competition?
My expectations for state were to get 3rd and maybe 2nd. I also expected to go under 18:00, but that didn’t happen. Looking back on it, I should have pushed the hills more. I knew my competition’s times and what they looked like. I already knew Anna Maxwell and that there was no way I was going to beat her unless she had a very bad day. Caroline Pietrzyk was who I wanted to beat. I stayed with her until one of the hills in the second mile and I just couldn’t make up the ground between us after that.

10)  What does a typical week look like for you in terms of runs, workouts etc?
It depends on where we are at in the season. We do 5-7 mile recovery runs and then weight lifting three times a week. We do workouts the other three days. We follow the Lydiard Pyramid. We might be using something else this upcoming season though. The summer is high mileage and weight room. We do tempos and long runs. The season workouts range from 2ks, 200m, 800m, 400m hills (we call them grades), and to whatever else we are working on. And the amount of repeats depends on where we are at in fitness and the season.

11)  Tell us a little about your coach and how he has helped you develop into the runner you are today.
Jason is really helpful and I like to talk to him about all sorts of running related stuff. He gets into it as much as I do. We send each other videos and all sorts of stuff. He sends me race results from meets that we didn’t go to but thinks I would like to see. I ask him questions about how the body works, like the different energy systems. I have even asked him about mitochondria. He also will go to the weight room with me at 9pm because it was race day and I still wanted to do the workout. He takes his kids along and they’re pretty awesome kids. They try to lift or do pull ups sometimes, but with really light weights because they’re little. Jason cares a lot about the team and program. He is trying to improve the team every year and is succeeding. I’ve heard when he first started 6 or 7 years ago it was a struggle to get people to run a lap. Now our track team has 70 kids on it and we are close to being a Division 5 school so that’s a large chunk of the school’s population.

12)  What are your track and field PRs?  Goals for this year?
My track and field PRs are 3200m 10:48 and 1600m 5:05 and my 800m is 2:30. The 800m races were always competitive to me sinse the local girls had no problem keeping up with me and even beating me.
My goals this year for track are to break 5 minutes for the 1600. Hopefully before Connor Trump does because we have a bet and I’m going to win that. In the 3200m I want to run under 10:30. In the 800m I want to run low 2:20s and not suck at it anymore. I know I’m a 3200m girl, but I feel the need to improve at that race.

13)  Some quick hitters.  Favorite XC invitational?  Favorite XC course?  Favorite XC workout?  Favorite long run?  Favorite TF invitational?  Favorite TF distance?  Favorite TF workout?
My favorite XC Invitationals and courses are both a toss up between two invites, Stanford Invitational and my school’s, Clam Beach Invitational. The Stanford course is really nice and I like the competition. The Clam Beach Invitational is right on the beach. Its all on hard packed sand and there’s even a river crossing. The medals are also sweet. They are seashell shaped and big. It’s just a fun meet and I got to lead the kids race this year. I love seeing little kids run and running with them.

My favorite workout is the mile repeats we do in the Arcata Community Forest. We do them once before every season. It starts out with wide paths and goes into single track and then gets wide again. There’s some crazy turns on steep hills with the single track. Last time we did them two guys smashed into each other and fell on the ground. I could hear them behind me and I just hear a shout and the footsteps stop and everything got really quiet. And then I heard laughing and the footsteps started again. It was hard to continue running and not stop and laugh at them.

I love long runs. Those are my favorite workouts. Whenever I finish a long run I feel so good and want to do it again. I don’t think I have a favorite long run, but maybe the Tall Trees 12 mile run. One day I’m doing the whole 17 miles just to see if there are actually tall trees at the end of the trail.

My favorite track invitational is the Sterling Invite in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The meet directors actually feed us dinner the night before and my team stays the night in an indoor sports center building. We play soccer and watch movies together. I liked Stanford a lot, I just enjoy the meets with my teammates there more. I think my favorite invite will change this season because I get to go to Arcadia.

My favorite distance in track is the 1600m. It feels so short and fast.

The 16 x 200m. is my favorite workout in track, not because it's the first one I ever did. I just like it because I can go all out every repeat and not really feel it until after the workout.

14)  Anything else you would like to add.
I want to say thanks to everyone who is supporting and cheering for me. It still surprises me when I’m walking through the halls at school and people are saying good job and congrats all day long. I finish races and people are messaging me, telling me that I did great. My coaches, parents, friends and other parents are great. Also, the running club members and community. It’s a lot of different people and it’s just amazing how supportive they are of me.

Thank you very much for your time Morgin!  AJC

1 comment:

Jered said...

Cool to see her take on her success. Last year I assisted with track at Del Norte, and at my previous school I coached xc so I have a real appreciation and admiration for distance runners. We watched Morgan take it out on every single league meet last year and we just marveled as she lapped other quality runners by the end of the 3200 races. It was awesome to see her go to state in the 3200 and equally so to follow her success at the state level in XC this year. It'll be fun to watch her progress over the next two years, too.

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