Friday, July 19, 2024

2024 Pre-Season CCS Division II Rankings (Teams and Individuals)

CCS Pre-Season Division II Rankings
Boys Teams:
1) Los Altos
2) Saint Francis
3) Branham
4) Los Gatos

Boys Individuals:
1) Aydon Stefanopoulos - Los Gatos
2) Joshua Guzman - Gilroy
3) Alijah Murillo - Branham
4) Sam Hurst - Los Altos
5) Dominic McMahon - Santa Clara
6) Tristan Kippes - Palo Alto

Girls Teams:
1) Saint Francis
2) Los Altos
3) Los Gatos
4) Palo Alto

Girls Individuals: 
1) Evie Marheineke - Archbishop Mitty
2) Kinga Czajkowska - Palo Alto
3) Amaya Bharadwaj - Palo Alto
4) Caitlin Cilley - St. Francis
5) Sabrina Zanetto - St. Francis

Feel free to comment below on the above rankings. Please let me know if I missed a team or individual. Any hot shot freshmen joining any of the above teams or other teams in the division?

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Divisional changes for Central Coast Section teams for 2024 season

The following are teams that will be competing in different divisions this coming cross country season.

Division I
North Salinas (moving to Division I from Division II)

Division II
Fremont (moving to Division II from Division I)
Rancho San Juan (moving to Division II from Division III)
San Mateo (moving to Division II from Division III)
Valley Christian SJ (moving to Division II from Division III)
Woodside (moving to Division II from Division III)

Division III
Monta Vista (moving to Division III from Division II)
Yerba Buena (moving to Division III from Division II)
Hillsdale (moving to Division III from Division II)
Lincoln (moving to Division III from Division II)

Division IV

Divison V
The King's Academy (moving to Division V from Division IV)

Sunday, July 14, 2024

NCS Pre-Season Division III rankings thanks to Campolindo coach Andy Lindquist


4 teams make it to state in this division, and this upcoming season there will be plenty of teams fighting for those spots.

1 Tamalpais
The Red-Tailed Hawks were the biggest surprise in the NCS last cross country season and this track season. Last fall, Tamalpais pulled off the upset win to dethrone Campolindo at the section meet and followed that up with a top 10 placing at state.

This spring “Tam” turned it up to another level as one of the best middle distance squads in the entire section. With a whopping 12 returning athletes all under 4:50 for 1600, Tam is loaded with talent. Gilby Filat Sam Ismailer, and Lucas Ruark look to be the frontrunners at this point, with all three breaking 10:00 in the 3200 this past spring. The big challenge for Tamalpais will be developing that middle-distance speed into cross country endurance. Caden Gardner, Jack Turner, and Cooper Hatch all broke 2:00 in the 800 during the track season, and they could easily turn into major contributors for a loaded Tam squad.

As it stands, this team is far ahead of the challengers as they seek to be the first non-Campolindo team to repeat in this division since Petaluma from 2009-2010. Given the graduation losses of other teams in the state, Tam has plenty of potential to have its best finish ever, with a Top-3 podium spot well within reach. While track times do not always translate to cross country success, there is simply too much talent and depth on this squad, some combination of 7 will be ready to go by the end of the season.

2. Maria Carrillo
The Pumas have plenty of young talent, including Cameron Jones, who ripped a 1:55 in the 800 and qualified to state in that event as a freshman last track season. Jack Wilson has sub-16:00 credentials at Woodward Park and gives the Pumas a low stick up front.

Austin Petrik had a solid spring season as well, running 9:53 in the 3200. Through three runners, Maria Carrillo is as good as Tamalpais, but the depth will need to be addressed if the squad wants to compete for the title. Jonathan Rath and Milo Wiese both ran 4:45 or better in the 1600 but they will need to adjust to the rigors of cross country racing if they want to compete for the section title.

3. Campolindo
The Cougars were the dominant team coming out of the pandemic, rolling to big NCS wins and two runner-up finishes at state in 2021 and 2022. Last year, the rest of the section caught up to Campolindo as the team was defeated by Tamalpais at the section meet, and then finished in 15th place at state, their worst performance in 20 years. While Campo has the most section titles of any team in this division, there is a big gap to make up as the summer begins. The Cougars have some incredible young talent and had the best Freshman 5k squad of any team in the state at Woodward Park last cross country season, but that youth will need to mature quickly.

Cody de la Cruz and Maxson Cook are the two veteran returnees from last year’s team, and both of them broke the 10:00 in the 3200 during the track season, a good starting point. From there, sophomores Clark Gregory, Drew Shogan, and Gavin Gunn all flashed brilliance at times but struggled with consistency. While the three of them all broke 10:20 for 3200 in track, they will need big improvements to challenge the likes of Maria Carrillo and Tamalpais. Junior to be Taejin Chung showed big improvement over the spring, clocking a 4:38 in the 1600 and a 10:16 in the 3200. Campo has a lot of depth with 9 athletes returning who have broken 10:30 for 3200, but that’s still a ways back of Tamalpais’ depth.

At this point, Campolindo remains a dark horse to move up the rankings, though having to rely on young and unproven talent will make it a challenge. The remaining teams chasing Campolindo in the standings all have significantly better front-end talent, so the Cougars will have to shore up their back end if they want to place in the top 4 and make it to state.

4. Casa Grande
Teams 4-7 are all loaded with talent and potential but short on depth, something that describes Casa Grande pretty well. Jack Dufour and Dylan Mainaris both flashed huge potential during track, with the pair running 1:57 in the 800. With a summer of training, the duo could make more big gains in the fall. The Gauchos have two other returners under 4:45 in the 1600 but after that there is a massive drop off to their projected #5 scorer, Jorge Navarro, who’s 1600 best is 4:52. There will need to be some big improvements at the back end for Casa Grande to move up these rankings and fend off all the other teams seeking that coveted fourth and final spot to state.

5. Las Lomas
The Knights are led by senior Nate Griffin-Yeh, who is the clear favorite to win the individual section title. With a best of 4:14 in the 1600, he made huge strides during the spring track season and that will continue this fall. Akash Ghandi is the next best returner at 4:39 for 1600 and after that, the Knights have a solid group who all ran between 4:46 and 4:50 in Zack Springer, Joshua Sonoda, and Andre Rivard. Having such a solid #1 runner will make the task easier for Las Lomas, but there is still plenty of ground to be made up if the Knights are to challenge for a berth to state.

6. Analy
This is the most intriguing team on the list, the talent is there for this squad to be a top-4 team, but they will need a big summer and some big breakthroughs on the cross country course to do so. The Tigers feature a potent duo of Cormac Gaylord and Owen Dawson, who both dipped under 4:30 in the 1600 during the track season. After that, Quince Holman is the projected number three, with a 4:36 1600 best.

That puts Analy in line with any other team but there is a massive drop-off after those three. Bear Vanden Heuvel is the next best returner and while he ran a solid 2:02 for 800, he only managed a 4:56 for 1600, which points to a lack of aerobic fitness and cross country potential. The Tigers do not have the team size of many of their opponents so they will need big improvements across the board from some of their younger athletes. Given that they did not have another returner break 5:00 for the 1600, they might not have the depth to move up these rankings. However, if any of their projected backend scorers have a big improvement, that will suddenly vault them up the standings and in contention for a state meet berth or better.

7. Newark Memorial
The Cougars (what’s with all the cat names!!) were a huge success story coming out of the pandemic, making the state meet for the first time in school history in 2021 and returning again in 2022. The squad struggled in the rain during the 2023 NCS Championship and Newark-Memorial has their work cut out for them when it comes to making it back to state. Kenji Kawabata had a nice breakthrough during the spring, running 9:38 in the 3200, which will help a lot.

Still, there is a big gap between him and the rest of the projected scorers, with the Cougars only returning 4 athletes with sub-5:00 credentials in the 1600. Again, any improvement from these backend scorers would make a substantial difference to their chances at finishing in the top 4, so don’t count Newark-Memorial out just yet.

Individual rankings
Campolindo sophomore Clark Gregory is the top returner from last year’s NCS meet after his head-turning third-place finish. While he struggled with injury during the spring track season, if he can stay healthy he will be in contention for another top 3 finish. Nate Griffin-Yeh of Las Lomas is the heavy favorite coming into the season based on his 4:14 and 9:32 1600/3200 performances in the spring. He looks to be the first runner from Las Lomas to win the individual NCS title since Greg Drosky in 2006.

  1. Nate Griffin-Yeh - Las Lomas
  2. Kenji Kawabata - Newark-Memorial
  3. Jack Wilson - Maria Carrillo
  4. Lucas Rurark - Tamalpais
  5. Cameron Jones - Maria Carrillo
  6. Gilby Filat - Tamalpais
  7. Sam Ismailer - Tamalpais
  8. Austin Petrik - Maria Carrillo
  9. Cormac Gaylord - Analy
  10.  Dylan Mainaris - Casa Grande

NCS DIII Girls Rankings

Campolindo has dominated this division like no other team in the history of the NCS, winning the past 10 team championships in a row. The 10-peat is tied with SF University (1995-2004) for the longest winning streak in the history of the NCS Championships.

While “Campo” has been on a tear at the state level recently (4 state titles in 7 years), Montgomery returns the most talented front end in the entire state of California and looks to finally dethrone Campolindo and win its first section title since 2001.

1. Montgomery

The unstoppable triumvirate of Hanne Thomsen, Amrie Lacefield, and Seelah Kittlestrom continues for another season, with the three seniors easily the best trio in DIII in the entire state. When you have the potential to go 1-2-3 at the NCS meet, and have three finishers in the top 10 at state, you have the makings of an all-time great team.

Depth has been an issue for the Vikings in recent years however, and while Jasmine Mansfield made huge strides this track season in running 5:17 in the 1600, she has never done cross country before. There is still no guarantee that she will end up competing for Montgomery during the fall due to commitments to other sports.

After that, there is an even greater drop-off, with Montgomery’s next fastest runner being Cora Morthole at 5:55 in the 1600. Such a huge gap could end up sinking the team’s NCS title and state podium chances against teams with a tighter pack margin. Any improvement from Montgomery’s back-end runners or a new freshman coming out for the team could make all the difference.

As it stands now Montgomery is the heavy favorite but will have some work to do at the backend. At last year’s NCS Championship meet, Morthole finished in 59th place, which accounted for almost half of Montgomery’s team score at that race. Given the depth the contending teams have at their disposal, the Vikings will need to close down the pack margin.

2. Maria Carrillo
The Pumas have been one of the most consistent teams in this division for quite some time, but a section title has eluded them, having last won a section title in DII in 2013. You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find the last time Maria Carrillo captured a DIII title.

With budding superstar Ashlin Mallon at the front, the Pumas have all the pieces ready to make a run at the title. Carley Schubert and Katherine Choe have continued their improvement curves during the spring track season and Maria Carrillo has plenty of other runners waiting in the wings as well, returning a whopping 14 girls who have broken 6:00 in the 1600.

As usual, the Pumas will have work to do at their back end and they have a fairly experienced team at this point, with 5 returners from last year’s postseason squad, so the team should be set up for another stellar season this fall. Given league rival Montgomery’s lack of depth, Maria Carrillo could place seven runners in front of their fifth, which would be hard to overcome at the section meet.

3. Campolindo
“Campo” has been the class of this division for decades now, with the Cougars owning a whopping 17 DIII championships in the past 25 years. This will be the first time in quite a while that Campolindo is rebuilding, having lost the bulk of its squad from last year.

The cupboard is by no means bare for the Cougars though, as sophomores Kiona McCasland (5:20 1600) and Amalia Contreras (5:20 1600) had productive track seasons. Contreras had an impressive finish last fall in breaking 19:00 for 5K at the state meet, so Campolindo starts the season in a good spot at the front end.

The real wildcard for the team will be junior Claire Andrzejek, who transferred mid-year from the Bay School. While she is somewhat unproven in cross country, she had a breakout track season in running 2:16 in the 800. While track times do not always translate over to cross country, given veteran coach Chuck Woolridge’s track record of developing athletes over the summer, it’s a definite possibility.

While a few varsity-level athletes will not be returning for the fall season, Campo has plenty of depth at the lower division, with a strong sophomore class looking to rise up the ranks.

Youngers Angele Tseng, Kaitlyn Kinsey, and Nora Lawrence all flashed plenty of potential during the track season as well, and any big improvements from them could also make a huge difference.

As it stands now, Campo has some question marks that need to be answered and some new faces will need to step up and lead the team after such heavy graduation losses. Given the squad’s championship pedigree, it’s likely that they will rise to the occasion and challenge the top 2 teams at the section championships.

4. Tamalpais
The Red-Tailed Hawks are on the upswing and had a very solid spring track season. Emma Gardner and Estella Wong both broke the 5:20 barrier in the 1600 and with 5 returners under 5:50 in the 1600, Tamalpais has plenty to build off of.

The lack of a proven frontrunner is a bit of an issue but that can change very quickly after a full summer of training. Tam is not too far ahead of the other teams contending for the fourth and final spot to state. Right now, they have a slight edge but the battle for fourth place could come down to a handful of points.

5. Northgate
The Broncos continued to progress during the spring track season, with Elena Carcamo posting a huge breakthrough in roaring to 5:12 in the 1600. If she can continue that development into the fall, she will give Northgate a strong frontrunner.

Northgate’s projected 2-5 runners all ran between 5:39-5:43 in the 1600, so the team will have a good amount of depth backing Carcamo. The real challenge will be working on the pack margin between their first and fifth scorer, as this will be critical to closing the gap on the likes of Tamalpais and Campolindo.

Given that Northgate competes in the Diablo Athletic League along with Campolindo, the squad will have plenty of opportunities to test themselves before the NCS championships.

6. Las Lomas
The Knights are the most interesting team on this list due to their impressive front-running duo of Charlotte Orr (state meet participant in the 800) and Lilly Montilla (5:09 1600). Orr had a very solid cross country season last fall and her massive improvement in the longer distances during the track season, running 5:08 for 1600, points to another big jump next fall.

After those two there is a big drop off to Grace England, who has a 1600 best of 5:39. The Knights tend to have one of the larger teams in the area so filling out the remainder of the team should not be too challenging. Still, given the lack of depth, Las Lomas is on the outside looking in for now.

7. Newark Memorial
The Cougars have a solid front end, with Alice McCarthy posting solid times of 5:18 and 11:27 in the 1600/3200 respectively during the track season. Depth is still an issue for Newark-Memorial though, after Rahwa Fekadu (5:40 1600) and Grace Veloza (5:41for 1600) there is a big drop off. For the Cougars to have any shot at making it to state, this will have to be addressed, as the team lacks the front-end firepower of the teams ranked ahead of them.

Individual rankings
Montgomery should have no trouble going 1-2-3 in this race at the NCS Championships, something that will greatly aid their title chances.

  1. Hanne Thomsen - Montgomery
  2. Seelah Kittlestrom - Montgomery
  3. Amrie Lacefield - Montgomery
  4. Ashlin Mallon - Maria Carrillo
  5. Charlotte Orr - Las Lomas
  6. Avery Coddington - Casa Grande
  7. Elena Carcamo - Northgate
  8. Alice McCarthy - Newark Memorial
  9. Amalia Contreras - Campolindo
  10. Kiona McCasland - Campolindo

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Catching up with CCS 800m record holder (2:04.37), Ann Regan (now Dyer)

Today we catch up with CCS 800 meter record holder, Ann Dyer (née Regan). She competed at Camden High School in San Jose which closed in 1980. She set the CCS record in the 800 meters in a dual meet versus the USSR team in 1977 as a sophomore. She was also state champion in the 800 from 1977 to 1979 making her the first 3-time state champion in the event. Only Lindsay Hyatt of Placer who won the same event four years in a row was able to surpass Ann's championship accomplishment. Ann is now the head cross country coach at Notre Dame San Jose.

1) How did you get started running? Aside from running, what other sports did you do before high school?
In fourth grade, there was an announcement at my school for any girls interested in joining a track team. A friend encouraged me to try out and I ended up running with the Integra Track Club at San Jose State. That was during the time that many of the best US sprinters were running at “Speed City”. John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, and many other top athletes trained at SJSU with coach Bud Winter. It was a lot of fun running there! I didn’t participate in any other sports before high school but my coaches and teammates made track fun and something I wanted to do.

2) What was your experience as far as competing in running before high school? What were your personal bests before high school?
My first race was the 50-yard dash on a dirt track! I gradually moved up in distance but don’t remember my times. That was so long ago!! We’d practice a couple days a week and have a meet on the weekend. In a junior high/middle school meet I had to get special permission to run both the 400 and 800 because girls weren’t able to run two distance races at one meet.

3) What was your experience during your freshman year in high school? What were some of the standout races that you remember during cross country and track and field seasons?
I ran with the Cupertino Yearlings my freshman year but I wasn’t able to compete on both the club team and the high school team. I moved to the San Jose Cindergals at the beginning of my sophomore year. I ran cross country with the Cindergals but not with my high school team.

I have many great memories of running track meets in high school. There was a dual meet where I thought I was finished for the day but we needed some extra points so I jumped up and ran the 2 mile. Breaking five minutes in the mile at a duel meet with Los Gatos and the LG coach cheering for me as loud as my own coach! One time I took the VTA bus to get to the CCS meet at San Jose City College. The bus driver wished me good luck and it worked! I also ran the mile relay all three years and the 440 (yards at that time!) in my junior and senior years at the CCS meet. CCS meets and CA State meets were always fun and exciting! I also was able to run in some indoor meets which were fun too.

4) You set the current CCS record in the 800 of 2:04.37 in a USA and USSR dual meet following your sophomore season. What do you remember about that race? Where was it located? How did you qualify for that meet?
The US/USSR Dual Meet was held in Richmond, VA. There were two US and two USSR athletes in the race. I was so nervous that I told my coach that I didn’t think I could run. He said, “Well, let’s go home then”! I was the first American, second overall, and ran my PR! I qualified for the team by competing in the Jr. Nationals which today would be the U20 Championships.

5) You won the 800 meters three straight years from your sophomore to senior years. What do you remember about those three races? Who were the main competitors that you remember? Was any of those victories any more satisfying than the other ones?
One thing that is different about the CA State Meet is that you run trials one day and finals the next day. Also, it’s different not knowing many of the people in your race. I competed against Linda Goen from Bakersfield all three years. We ended up at college together, became friends and I even attended her wedding. My sophomore year was special because it was my first State meet and it was a close race. My senior year is also a good memory because it was my third win. I missed my senior prom because it was the same night as the meet!

6) What do you remember about your high school training? What did a typical week look like?
Training with my club team allowed me to practice with many of the best local high school runners. I think we pushed each other to be better. We worked out together on weekdays, usually had a meet once a week, and did a run on our own on the weekend. We also trained pretty much year-round.

7) Looking back now from a coaching perspective, what do you think you did training-wise that worked for you and what do you wish you did differently?
We ran a lot on the track. I might have done more distance on the trails. I never really thought of myself as a cross country runner. I ran cross country to help me with my track season. I wonder what might have happened if I had had a different mindset.

8) Can you tell us a little about your college experience? How did you end up choosing West Valley College and then UCLA? Highlights? Proudest achievements? Post-collegiate experiences?
My club coach was coaching at West Valley so I stayed to train for the Olympic Trials. After that, I transferred to UCLA. I had known the UCLA coach from having attended training camps and meets over the years. I had so much fun in college but didn’t run as well as I had hoped. After college, I ran a little bit but as work commitments increased it was hard to run consistently.

9) You are now coaching at Notre Dame San Jose. How did you get into coaching and what have been some of your previous coaching experiences? What are you looking forward to this season? 
I had always thought about coaching but couldn’t make it work with my schedule. When I retired from teaching, I learned that Notre Dame San Jose was looking for assistant track coaches. Last spring was my first coaching experience and this fall is my first time coaching cross country. I am learning about track and cross country from a different perspective and look forward to having fun with the teams.

10) You have the experience of being a very elite high school runner. What advice would you give other female runners who are either elite or have aspirations to be elite?
I’d say to have fun, be positive and try your best! It’s important to enjoy what you’re doing, know that you can always take away something good from a practice or race, and that there will be good and bad days. Be patient, keep things in perspective, and appreciate the present!

11) Can you tell us a bit about what coaches or adults helped you during your athletic career? What did you learn from them? What do you feel you carry on from them with you as a current coach?
I have had the opportunity to work with many great coaches during my running career! I didn’t realize how hard they worked to enable my success until I started coaching. There is a lot of time, thought, and planning that goes into each athlete. I would just come to practice and run the workout but now realize my coaches did a lot “behind the scenes”. I continue to be impressed at how much knowledge the coaches have about the sport.. I’d like to be as dedicated!

12) Anything else you would like to add.
I have met many great friends and amazing people through Track and Field and Cross Country. I have terrific memories of fun times, challenges, and experiences. I hope that anyone participating in the sport will be able to celebrate their accomplishments, learn from their disappointments, and have fun. Happy trails!

Thank you very much for your time, Ann!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Campolindo '13 grad Rod Farvard finishes 2nd at Western States 100

Rod on the left in the photo finished in 2nd place with a time of 14:24:15. You can check out the results and description of the race at this link:

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Seeking assistant coaches

Crystal Springs Uplands School: is looking for two cross country assistant coaches for the 2024 fall season. Crystal is located in Hillsborough and competes in Division 5. This is for the 2024-2025 school year. A zest for distance running, a positive attitude, and running experience is a plus. Practice will start on August 9th and will run until the end of November. A stipend is available. Interested individuals should send a resume with references to athletic director Chris Wade at and Albert Caruana at 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Catching up with former Great Oak and current Herriman coach, Doug Soles

Today we chat with former Great Oak and current Herriman coach, Doug Soles. Over more than a decade, Coach Soles has been one of the most successful cross country and track and field coaches in the nation as you will see below. During covid, Coach Soles completed his first book which is a blueprint for coaching a super successful team. I read the book and would highly recommend it to any coaches out there looking for a great book to read this summer. Coach Soles is also very generous with his time and happy to help any coaches that want to reach out to him with any questions they may have about their own teams.

1) What was your own athletic background and some of your highlights?
I was always one of the faster and more agile kids when I was younger. I grew up in a running family, with my Uncle Rob Durkee being an Oregon XC Champion when I was a kid, which inspired all of us to run. We used to just go to the track and run around and have fun. It wasn’t ever anything structured, but always fun to see what we could do. I did almost every sport at some point, but running was always my strong suit.

As I got older, it was easy to recognize that my quickness and speed lent itself more to shorter races over long ones, so I went in the direction of sprints in jr. high and high school. I ended up at Seaside High School on the coast in Oregon and ran sprints for Gene Gilbertson from 1992-94 and we had a great group at the time. We finished 2nd at state in the 4x100 and 3rd in the 4x400. Getting the baton in the 4x4 to a packed crowd at Hayward Field was an amazing experience! I went on to run for Mt. Hood Community College and Western Oregon University under Coach John Knight. My roommates were all multi-eventers and we had a blast. I learned a lot about competing from those guys.

2) How did you get into coaching and what sports have you coached?
My first coaching experience was in basketball. Our high school had us doing service projects and I volunteered as an assistant coach for my local elementary school’s 5th-grade team. The starting point guard was my little brother, so I had some experience with the people there and was excited to help. I learned a lot about motivating young athletes, and in the final game of the season, the head coach gave it to me to coach. We took on the undefeated team and found a way to win! I was hooked after that!

In college I got the opportunity to teach sprint form and technique and a few different camps and clinics, working with young athletes. That’s when I really started thinking about coaching as something I wanted to do. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but the coaching came on after these experiences.

My first coaching job was at Desert Hot Springs High School in the Palm Springs Unified School District, coaching with my wife. We had a small but fun group and I got the chance to make many mistakes and learned a lot from those amazing kids!

3) During your time as the Great Oak/Herriman cross country and track and field coach, what were some of your highlights and proudest achievements?
We had a lot of success at Great Oak, starting with our 2010 girls' state championship. That really opened the door for all of us to really evolve into a national-level program. Those girls really worked to win that one, and it motivated me as a coach to improve to keep up with the level they were achieving. Our boys started catching up in 2014 and we ended up with 14 Division 1 State Championships at the California State Meet (8 girls and 6 boys)! That makes me tremendously proud because of how many different athletes went into that success. The girls won 7 straight titles (2012-18), while the boys won 6 in a row (2014-2019), which are pretty amazing streaks in their own right, but incredible when you realize how many times they both won in the same year. Obviously, our boy's team winning NXN in 2015 will always be a special moment for me and that program. Beating everyone in the country in any sport is near impossible to do, so I truly remember that as a special group of kids.

For track, I think having the success we did in the distance relays during the regular season, and the individuals during the postseason really stands out for me. Our boys running 16:52 for the 4x1600 and breaking the national record in 2016 was a special moment for me as a coach, as they set the goal and worked incredibly hard to achieve it. On the girl's side, we did some special things. Watching Haley Dorris run 4:44, Destiny Collins run 4:45, and Ashley Helbig 4:48 in 2014 at the Master’s Meet was incredible, being the first team to have 3 under 4:50 in the same race. We did it again in 2018 with Fatima Cortes running 4:46, Tori Gaitan running 4:47, and Arianna Griffiths at 4:49! Too many amazing athletes to list during my time at GO!

My time at Herriman has been short so far, taking over in Track 2022. Our boys won the Timpanogos Invite in Utah last year, Woodbridge in CA, took 2nd at NXR, and 3rd at NXN in my first XC season with the group! We followed that up with some amazing performances in track with Noah Jenkins running 4:05/8:43, Will Horne taking 2nd at nationals in the steeple chase in 5:46, Kadan Allen winning the 800 state title in 1:52, and William Steadman finishing 2nd in the 1600 right behind Danny Simmons! Our boys won the state title in the 4x800 and broke the state record by running 7:39! They also won the Mt. SAC relays DMR at 10:02! Our girl's group is starting to close the gap too, taking 2nd in the girl's 4x1600 at the Mt. SAC Relays this year! Looking forward to a big XC season here in 2023, where our boys have become the deepest team in the nation, and our girls are closing in on the top teams in Utah!

4) What was your incentive to write your book?
Famous writer Martin Dugard really encouraged me to write one to help coaches understand all the different components it takes to build and sustain a championship-level team. I’ve always had a lot of correspondence with other coaches around the country, and many of the questions were the same. What I found was most coaches had a pretty good idea of what they were doing, but they just needed someone to confirm it for them. My hope is that this book can do that for many coaches, and maybe fill in some gaps that anyone has in their program. Mentoring coaches and seeing them dial it in with their teams has always motivated me to share what my program has looked like. When you help coaches, you are really helping the kids they work with and that is why anyone gets into education.

5) What are some of the feedback that you have gotten back from coaches regarding your book?
The feedback has been tremendously positive! I think this is a must-have book for any cross country coach out there because it really forces you to look at your strengths and weaknesses as a coach and as a program and determine where you can improve. The best feedback is from coaches telling me they always had a feeling they were on the right path for this area of coaching or for that but just needed someone to outline it for them. My goal is for the book to be a reference for coaches each summer so that they can keep coming back to try to change little things here and there to get their program to the level they want it to get to. I think the most interesting thing from a writing perspective is how many different people see the value in so many different parts of the book. Much of the feedback is different for each coach, showing the need for a book that confirms what each coach needs to hear and see for their program needs.

6) Where can someone purchase your book?
The only place to pick up a copy is on It is the easiest place to get it out to anyone looking to purchase a copy. Here is the link: Building Championship Cross Country Programs: Soles, Doug: 9798372119963: Books

7) How can someone reach out to you with any questions?
I get lots of amazing emails from coaches all over the country trying to dial in all the different things it takes to be successful in XC and Track. The best way to reach me is via email at and my personal website is

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

New Cross Country Invitational for 2024!

New Cross Country Invitational for 2024!

Please consider attending the Baylands Invitational, a new cross country invitational which will be debuting this Fall on Friday evening September 13 (first race at 3, last race at 6:30)…and as of today (5/31/24) it will be the only CCS-sanctioned cross country event scheduled to be held in Santa Clara County this coming season!! We will be borrowing the old Earlybird Invite format, meaning that the 8 races will be by class as opposed to team; ie, all frosh will run in the frosh race, all sophs in the soph race, etc., regardless of where they may end up relative to Varsity/JV/Frosh Soph, etc., so a great opportunity to let everybody have an early season race with perhaps a bit less pressure! We will run a 4K course, which will be the exact same course we use for our WCAL meet, minus the last loop—once the runners return from the outer loop, they will just turn right and head to the finish. Registration will be through, THOUGH NOTE THAT AS OF RIGHT NOW, THE DATE ON ATHLETIC.NET IS INCORRECTLY LISTED AS 9/14 (due to permitting error; next year we plan on being on Saturday) and the meet is already listed there. Sincerely hope to see you all there!! Wishing everyone a restful and healthy summer, Patrick McCrystle, head coach Bellarmine College Prep

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Catching up with former Livermore HS and Villanova runner, Becky Spies

Today we catch up with former Livermore HS and Villanova University runner Becky Spies. In HS, Spies posted bests of 2:07.25 and 4:45.11, which still stand as the 4th and 6th fastest times in NCS history, respectively, for the 800 and 1600. She was 2-time CA state champ in the 1600 in 1990 and 1991. In cross country, she finished in the top 10 at the state meet three times including two 2nd place finishes in 1989 and 1990. The photo on the right is from her junior year in high school, leading Deena Drossin from Agoura, who went on to Olympic marathoning success as Deena Kastor. At Villanova, Spies was a 4-time All-American runner, 9-time Big East champions and helped her team win multiple NCAA cross country team titles. She is one of only three Villanova individuals to be named a Rhodes Scholar and was inducted in the Villanova Hall of Fame. You can learn more about her in this Sports Illustrated spotlight LINK from 1995. Spies's son, Sebastien Swaine just completed his freshman season at Peidmont HS with bests of 1:57.07 and 4:18.58. 

1) How did you get your start in running? What other sports did you participate in aside from running? What were your track PRs going into HS? I come from a track family. My father ran at San Ramon High School. I have two older siblings who ran track (my sister Jessica ran mostly the 400 and 800m at Livermore, and my brother Brennan ran mostly the 400m at Bellarmine). My mom is, I think, also a stealth runner. Somehow I remember her beating me to most of the mile markers during cross country over the years! 

I played soccer mostly as a kid, but I ran CYO track starting in either 2nd or 3rd grade.  My brother was running CYO and he was my babysitter, so off to practice I went. I ran the 100m. I was not a sprinter. In 4th grade, I tried the 400m and 800m and found a bit more success at the longer distances (not last). By middle school, I was still physically small and too technically unskilled to keep playing competitive soccer. I did a few workouts with the high school track team at Livermore and with a club in San Jose but I developed a tibial stress fracture and did not run for at least 6 months right around the end of 7th/8th grade. I don't remember my times very well- I think I may have broken 230 or 240 in the 800 in middle school and I had not run very many 1500s.

2) What were some of your high school cross country highlights and proudest achievements? I had a really solid freshman year in NCS and had a pretty good run at State, but I was behind a lot of other freshmen in the nation at that time by a long way (think Melody Fairchild and Deena Drossin). My sophmore year I didn't run high school cross country. I was proudest of my junior year in cross country, where Deena Drossin and I were 1-2 at the State meet (she outkicked me in the final 250m at Woodward Park). I made the Kinney West team that year and finished 11th at Nationals. I was very excited to be running pretty well at that level. I went on that same year to run on the US Junior National World Cross Country team in Aix Les Bains, France,  and what could get better than that!  The actual race at Worlds wasn't my best but I was blown away to wear a US uniform and run in an international competition.

3) What were some of your high school track and field highlights and proudest achievements? I love the track. I loved to go down to Arcadia and Mt. Sac and run against some of the best national and southern California competitions. Of course, I really wanted to do well at the State meet, so those moments are seared into my memory. My big three that I look back on now are 1) my fight for 3rd in the 800 at State as a sophomore year (I actually kicked!), 2) winning the mile at State as a junior and 3) then winning the 1500m at US Jr Nationals as a senior in high school to compete at the Jr Pan American Games. Making a US team and traveling is FUN! :)

4) What do you remember about your high school training? What do you feel like really worked for you? What do you wish you did differently knowing what you know now? There are training logs somewhere, and my long-term memory is very fuzzy. I remember I ran low mileage (5 miles was a LONG run for me) but my interval workouts were pretty fast! I don't remember doing "tempo" pace work on the track as much, in the way programs do now at lactate threshold levels (at 10k to marathon pace).  My interval days gave me a lot of confidence that I could run fast- run the paces that my coach asked me to do. My coach, George Gilbert, was pretty knowledgeable at the time, though, and I think I was well-trained in high school and deliberately kept at a low mileage; I was fortunate to have a lot of success. The 'science' of training has advanced quite a bit in the last 30 years. I think if I could go back and change anything, I think I would still try to undertrain on the mileage side in high school (plenty of time to add mileage later in college/as you mature into the sport). I probably would focus on having a more holistic approach to the sport, spending more time on active stretching/activation exercises/calisthenics/yoga, nutrition, etc, and honestly spending more time on mental prep and visualization to help with transitions in competitions (moving from local high school to regional/national and international competitions). My coach/coaches tried to introduce some of that, but honestly I never fully developed those strong routines during my competitive years. 

5) You ran at Villanova. What led you to decide to attend Villanova and what other schools were also considered? Villanova has an incredible history (established success) on both the men's and women's sides. Also,  Villanova, as a University on the whole, championed the cross country and track teams. The women's team had an amazing group of female middle-distance runners (NCAA XC champions) there that I admired, and they were all hard workers. The team was small and intimate, they met for workouts and runs together basically every day, and, despite all of the individuals there pursuing their own successes, there was a strong sense of team unity and family. Coach "Uncle" Marty also seemed a good balance between humor and having fun. I can still remember him smiling and telling us to "watch out for the leaves" when we would head out for a tempo run in cross country or smiling and laughing and telling us to slow down as we ran intervals on the track.  With the teams he cultivated, no one needed to be told to pick up the pace and he knew that was not what we needed as athletes. So I guess I was attracted to that feeling of a running family and the high bar for success for the entire team balanced with just a touch of humor and ease.

For running, I looked very closely at Wisconsin as well as Arkansas and Oregon. At the time, these schools had great coaches, excellent teams, and traditions. Peter Tegen had recently graduated Suzy Favor at Wisconsin and I admired his coaching, Tom Heinonen had a tremendous reputation and of course (like Villanova) Oregon has a rich track/cross country history,  and Lance Harter had just moved from Cal Poly (so much success) to Arkansas and had a tremendously talented recruiting class from my year (Deena Drossin, Sarah Schwald, Nicole Teter to name a few). I looked at nondivision 1 programs too at the time, but the opportunity to earn a scholarship as the 3rd kid in my family was too big to overlook.

6) What was your transition like going from high school to college? When do you feel like you finally adjusted and started to race to your ability in college? I had a tough transition to college. A lot of people told me they thought kids from the west coast would not transition well to the East Coast (weather, culture), but that was not it. Looking back, I think the Jr Pan AM games were late in the summer, and I did not get a solid mileage base for cross country (especially since I came from a particularly low mileage high school base). I also caught mononucleosis at the end of that first semester, lost a lot of fitness, and just didn't recover quickly.  So my freshman year was a wash and I just didn't bounce back easily my sophomore year.  It took me more than a year to get back to a decent level of mental and physical fitness to compete, and I really did not start to feel like "my running self" again until my junior year of college.

7) What were some of your college highlights and proudest achievements? I was generally happy and proud of my junior year. I cannot name a specific race, and I don't think I really had any standout performances on the track, but I felt "good" running again, and it was fun! That felt like an achievement. I had never been to Penn Relays and could not possibly understand Villanova's special relationship to it until I was running there. It is special. I visited in the last few years and had a chance to walk along a long hallway dedicated to our Penn Relays wheels and some of my strongest memories of races come from those relays at Franklin Field being cheered on by that crowd- definite college career highlights to be able to anchor a winning Penn Relays team and these are some of my favorite photos from college. For any single race, I am probably most proud of my 3rd place at NCAAs in cross country my senior year, because of that special combination of team and individual success. Don't get me wrong! I absolutely love the track- and would much rather lace up for a mile than a 5K!   However, I don't think anyone was betting I would be in the top 3 that year in cross country, and there was even some talk that Arkansas would break our team title streak, so that day/performance my senior year felt particularly sweet.

8) Did you compete post collegiately?
 If so, what did you do? I did compete post collegiately- it started out as for fun. I was in Oxford for two years after college, so I joined the Oxford University track and cross country team (an entirely different system there) and the British Miler's club! I was mostly training myself at first. Eventually, I met the famous and lovely Bruce Tulloh and his even lovelier wife, Sue. "Barefoot Bruce" was coaching my former teammate Nnenna Lynch, also a Rhodes scholar and he invited me to train with them. I felt pretty good running cross country but I was sluggish on the track and had a few health issues while trying to finish up my master's thesis. I headed back to California and medical school at UCSF after two years and was very fortunate to have John Evans (at New Balance in Boston) agree to coach me from afar, but he was probably frustrated at my lack of full-time commitment to professional running. For me, it was hard to balance training and medical school! I did not have a training group, though I was fortunate to have a friend (Polly Plummer St. Geme), former high school teammate Ahmik Jones (who was also at UCSF med school), and a boyfriend to run with from time to time! I ran some road races, ran on some US Ekiden teams (which were a blast) and I was able to run the short course World Cross Country championships in 1999. Ultimately I wanted to run in the Trials on the track (childhood dream) and I was happy to qualify for and compete in the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 1500m, but I knew I could not compete at the level I wanted to without taking time away from my medicine and I chose not to do that. 

9) Who are the coaches that had the biggest impact on you as a runner before, during and after high school? What were your biggest lessons from them?

Barney Stocking (I believe he coached at Amador Valley High later). As my CYO coach, he made track fun for me as a little kid and opened my eyes to the sport.

George Gilbert, my coach during high school, is talented and just crazy enough to take me on, a stubborn teenager that I was! He had the biggest impact on me as a runner. You grow up with your high school coaches, literally, and he gave me the confidence to think of myself as a competitor on a bigger stage. 

We had some amazing coaches at Villanova. Marty Stern was my main coach, followed by Villanova alum John Marshall (800m Olympian in '84), and current head coach and former Villanova legend Gina Procaccio came on as a graduate assistant when I was there. Marty taught me control- not to overwork. We ran together, as a team, 2 x 2 on the track, controlled. I only had a year with John, but he helped me begin to think of myself on a higher level again. And Gina Procaccio is pure grit! She is a straight shooter and she expected toughness.

Now, when I can, I run with Laura Schmitt at her Thoroughbred club and studio. Laura is a valuable friend and highly successful coach of Redwood High School fame for many years. Laura is trying to teach me to run under the more current training philosophies... and I love to constantly ask her what "tempo" is and then push the pace! We have so much fun in her training group and I am so happy to be doing tempo work on the track after many years away from it. She exudes positivity,  love, and the pure joy of running, and I try to hold onto that. 

10) Your sister Jessica still holds the NCS record in the 800. What was her impact on your running career and what did you learn from her? My sister is 9 years older. She was my idol! and always will be. I chased her through time but just could not catch up. Unfortunately, she stopped running in college but she is so talented. We became close when I was in college and she was just so supportive of my running. I learned to be grateful to keep going from her when I was having periods of setbacks during and after college.  And now my son likes to tease me when he hears her name announced with track records at meets and not mine! ;)

11) You are now back in the high school scene with your son competing as a freshman. How has cross country remained the same and what are some of the changes you notice from your high school days? It has been quite a few years- so again my memories are pretty fuzzy of high school cross country! Well, I do know the course at Woodward Park has not changed! that and the consistent exuberance of kids in their first mile of a cross country race! The first rather superficial thing that struck me coming back was how participation seems healthy! It is impressive to see invitationals with thousands of runners there, and I am happy to see many kids out there in the sport. I find the depth of talent on both sides now to be so deep now- and certainly the times are impressive.

12) What advice would you give a talented high school girl with aspirations of competing in college and beyond? Take your time. It is great to run fast in the early season but remember you want to run fast at the end of the season, and you do not have to find all of your success in one season. Give yourself time to build consistency in your training and life. For most serious college athletes and professional runners, their careers are built over more than a decade!  You can rush yourself into injuries and illnesses. Do the daily, incremental work and stay dedicated to your goals.  Watch the professionals run. Like any sport, you can learn from their races and tactics. Use races and workouts to practice different things- can you go out fast and hold? Can you go out slower and kick? Can you practice surging?

From my time in the sport (from pre-high school to beyond), I saw the most success from women who cultivated their love of running and persevered through bumps in the road, avoiding defining success by just the podium or a clock. Those successes come, but they are byproducts of a love of and dedication to the sport. 

Thank you very much for your time, Becky. AC

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