Friday, February 27, 2009

Doug Courtemarche synonymous with Model Coach

Doug Courtemarche was a longshoreman in Long Beach, a submariner off the coast of Russia spying for the United States during the Vietnam War, a revenue collector for the IRS for 22 years, a counselor for the Veterans Administration and an anthropology major in college.

So I guess you could see why Courtemarche, as Santa Rosa’s cross country coach, recently received CIF’s highest coaching honor, the Model Coach Award.

Or maybe not.

Courtemarche is the living, breathing example of how a life doesn’t have to be logical, just consequential. The stress of having knocked on doors and asked for money, sometimes with uniformed gun-in-holster IRS officers as backup, has made being a cross country and track coach a walk in the park.

People with money issues trump, every time, teenagers with teenage issues. And spying on the Soviets, well, Courtemarche didn’t need caffeine to stay awake on that assignment.

All of which you would never know to meet Courtemarche. He doesn’t volunteer his ego; you have to bring it out of him.

So, why is he a role model?

“I’ve asked myself that question many times,” Courtemarche said.

“You were named a community hero in 1996, a honor that enabled you to carry the Olympic Torch,” I said. “How did you get to be a hero?”

“I’ve also asked myself that question many times,” he replied.

To read the rest of this article go to the following link:
Doug Courtemarche synonymous with Model Coach

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deadline for San Rafael Twilight Relays posted...

Hi all,

The 9th Annual San Rafael Twilight Relays will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2009.
Please have your entries into me by Saturday, March 7, 2009.

SHANNON ROWBURY will be on hand as our Special Awards Presenter and available to sign autographs!!!

Full entry information online at:

--Antioch HS
--Berkeley HS
--Calaveras HS
--Casa Grande HS
--Castlemont HS
--College Prep HS
--Crystal Springs Uplands
--Dublin HS
--Encinal HS
--Gunn HS
--Half Moon Bay HS
--Kelseyville HS
--Marin Academy HS
--McClymonds HS
--Novato HS
--Oakland Tech HS
--Petaluma HS
--Piedmont HS
--Piner HS
--Rancho Cotate HS
--San Rafael HS
--Skyline HS
--St. Patrick/St. Vincent HS
--Stuart Hall
--Terra Linda HS
--University HS

Thank you,
Jason Jacobson
Head XC and T&F Coach, San Rafael HS
Meet Director, 9th Annual San Rafael Twilight Relays
** Where the Stars Come Out to Shine **

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nice Shannon Rowbury Profile online

Check out the following link about Shannon Rowbury, the former Sacred Heart Cathedral runner, who qualified for this past Olympics in Beijing. Shannon finished in 7th place in the 1500m. final to record the highest finisher by an American woman in the event.

Inside Track: Rowbury looking for stronger finish in 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Peter Snell Documentary

Found the following link on featuring legendary New Zealand runner, Peter Snell. Among all his accolades which include multiple victories in the same Olympics (800 and 1500), Snell was also an exercise physiologist at UC Davis at one point. Here is the link to the documentary:
Peter Snell-Athlete (Short Film)

Also, here is an article I wrote about Snell 2 years ago in my legendary runner series:
Peter Snell: Legendary Runner #6

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Track related newspaper articles and update on NorCal Track Preview...

While we anxiously await that first Track and Field meet, here are a couple of articles that mention track athletes doing well in winter sports.

Presentation wins CCS soccer opener
(SJ Mercury)

Paige Logan, rebounder extraordinaire (SM Daily News)

And just for fun, I thought this would interest some people. Last year, Sports Illustrated named Punahou HS as the top sports high school in the United States. They just recently named a new athletic director to lead their historical sports program. She is a runner (YEAH!) and also an elephant trainer (INTERESTING!). How long has Panahou HS been around you ask? Try 168 years! Now that's history. Here's the article:
Punahou selects Garcia for AD post

Keith Conning has also updated the Northern California Preview for all Track and Field events for this coming season based on the top returners from last season.

Northern California High School Track Preview 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good article about the Mountain View HS Cross Country Team

MVHS runners in fast lane
Cross country team dominates CCS, ranks high in state competition

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tyson Invitational on ESPN today (2-4pm)

You can get your track fix today on this rainy Sunday as ESPN will show the Tyson Invitational from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

For you distance fans, you will get to see Galen Rupp's indoor American Record as he recorded a blazing 13:18.12 to finish 2nd. That time surpassed Doug Padilla's record from 27 years ago (13:20.55). Interestingly enough, one of the runners that was defeated in that race was Alberto Salazar who led most of the way but ended up in 4th place. Salazar has been Rupp's "mentor/coach" from his days in high school.

Padilla (born in Oakland, CA and pictured to the left) may not be a familiar name to current runners but in his time, he was one of the best distance runners in the world. His 3000m. time of 7:35.84 in 1983 still ranks as one of the fastest times for an American runner. He finished 5th in the 5000m. at the inaugral World Championships in Helsinki in 1983. He went on to finish 7th in the same distance at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. For those of you that have run at the Mariner Invitational, Padilla is also the man behind the scoring system ( at that meet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Northern California High School Track Preview 2009

Courtesy of Keith Conning and THE CONNING TOWER

If you are currently a High School Track and Field athlete in Northern California and you want to find out where you rank in your section or overall in Northern California in your event, check out the link below. Mr. Conning does a great job of listing all the times in every event (boys and girls) as well as break down the times by section. You can also see the top returning state meet performers from the '08 season.

Northern California High School Track Preview 2009

So what is the most competitive event in Northern California (boys and girls)? What is the strongest event in any of the NorCal sections (CCS, NCS, SJS, NS, OAK and SF)? Who are the strongest candidates to bring home state meet titles?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Catching up with former Oak Grove and current UC Berkeley runner Sebastian Sam...

Today we chat with former Oak Grove HS and current UC Berkeley runner Sebastian Sam. He finished in 7th place in the 800m. at the CCS finals as a sophomore and then went on to repeat as section champion his final two years (1:54.67 as a junior and 1:53.29 as a senior). He went on to record a 3rd place finish last year at the state meet with a fine 1:52.52. With a solid fall season, he will be looking to improve his time as he heads into his first collegiate track season.

1) Looking back at your high school career, what do you feel was your best race in Cross Country? Track and Field?
I never ran xc in high school, but my best race in track and field would have to be my 800m race at the 2008 CA state meet. Although I came in 3rd place I felt like I executed in my race as best as I could.

2) What do you think you did in high school that helped prepare you for college in terms of training?
One of the main things that prepared me for college was training 5 days out of the week and weight lifting. Every college stresses weight lifting as a big part of their program.

3) How did you end up choosing Cal Berkeley?
I chose CAL Berkeley because it proved to provide me with the best mixture of academics, sports and student life. The track team is also under new leadership with Head Coach, Tony Sandoval, and the recruiting for this year was great as well.

4) During your freshman season, what has been your toughest adjustment?
The toughest adjustment for my freshman season has been the longer distance training. I trained with the cross country team during the xc season which is something I have never done before, so it was hard running so many miles a week.

5) Besides the competition, what do you think will be the biggest differences between high school and college running?
The biggest difference between high school and college track will probably be the amount of time spent weekly. From practice, to weight lifting to study hall; my weeks remain busy.

6) What do you miss about high school running that is not present in college?
I do not miss anything from high school track and field except for my high school friends. I've used all of my past experiences and memories to build upon my confidence here at Berkeley.

7) Tell us a little about your high school coach and how he helped you during your high school years.
In high school I had a personal trainer, Chioke Robinson, whom I've known for 10 years and he trained me every year. My high school coach, Alan Wulczynski, worked with me on some days as well.

8) What distance will you be mainly focusing on in track?
I will be focusing primarily on the 800m.

9) What are your goals for this coming season?
I do not like to set a time goal for myself for the year because I found that if I do not hit the mark , then my confidence and ambition for the next season will lessen. I train my hardest with the mindset to win every race I enter, and hopefully that will be the case this year.

10) What did you do during the fall (cross country or fall conditioning)?
This past fall, I trained with the cross country runners but did not compete in any XC races. I feel that the base I built during the fall was the best I have ever had.

11) What would your advice be for prospective college runners?
The only advice I have for prospective college runners is to contact the college coaches. Many high school runners think that they just have to wait until the college coaches contact them, but that is not the case. The more you e-mail and call the coaches, the better chance you will have to be recruited.

12) Anything else you would like to add.

Thank you very much Sebastian! AJC

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Catching up with former Davis and current Stanford runner, Brendan Gregg...

Today we chat with former Davis HS and current Stanford runner, Brendan Gregg. He is seen here to the left during his hs junior season, leading a group of runners during the mile run at Stanford. His senior season at Davis was full of achievements as he won the seeded Stanford Cross Country Invitational and came back to the Farm to claim the 3000m. race in 8:30.38 on the track. Gregg also led the Davis team to a 3rd place finish at the XC state meet in the tough Division I race as he finished 6th in 15:21. On the track, he ran the 2 mile race at Arcadia and finished an impressive 4th in a time of 9:02.34. In the SJS championship, Gregg finished 2nd. to the not quite yet famous, German Fernandez, in the 3200m. (9:13.80 to 9:13.70) and went on to finish in 5th place at the state meet in 9:12.54. This past season in cross country, he was a member of Stanford's 3rd place team at the NCAA Division I Championship. He is currently racing for the first time on the indoor circuit before he heads outdoors with new goals to achieve. 
1) Looking back at your high school career, what do you feel was your best race in cross country? Track and Field? Winning Stanford Invite for XC and breaking 9:00 for 3200 at Arcadia are the two races from high school that really standout in my mind. Those races were really the only two where I feel I took full advantage of the shape I was in and really went for it and took the risks necessary to make some good things happen. 

  2) What do you think you did in high school that helped prepare you for college in terms of training? The most important thing I did in high school was stay healthy. I had four years of solid, uninterrupted aerobic development with no injuries. I was coached by my dad (Bill Gregg), and one of his central philosophies as a high school coach has always been that high school is just one step on much longer path to success in running, and he trained me (and all of his runners) with that in mind. We tried not to over race, which isn’t always easy in high school, and he found the right balance between training hard enough to compete at the level we wanted to and still leave something in the tank for college. We had a nice mileage progression over the four years, something like 30 miles per week as a freshman, 40 as sophomore, 50 junior, 55-60 senior. 

  3) How did you end up choosing Stanford? I ended up deciding between Stanford and Chico State. I visited a couple other schools that I liked a lot, but in the end I knew I wanted stay relatively close to home and be at a top-notch distance program, so it came down to those two. Once I got in and went on my visit to Stanford, the opportunity was too good to pass up. I get to train with some of the best athletes in the country, hang out and have a great time doing it. There’s a quote from somewhere I can’t remember but I think really sums up what we’re about: “We’re all here do one thing in common: to train and be righteous”. 

  4) During your freshman season, what was your toughest adjustment? It didn’t actually end up being all that much of a transition. The training was different than high school and being a college student is a lot different from being a high school student, but I came in with an incredible group of recruits, JT Sullivan, Jake Riley, Elliot Heath, and Tommy Gruenewald (now at BYU), and that really has made all the difference. Having a group of guys who are all on the same page, working towards the same goals, makes everything running-wise just fall right into place. That being said, I will say that it’s a bit of an adjustment to go from being used to being the fastest guy on the team in high school to a place like Stanford where everybody’s a number one guy. You’ve got to get used to getting rocked in a couple of the workouts at first. But that’s how you get better; excellence begets excellence. 

  5) Besides the competition, what are some of the biggest differences between high school and college running? In high school I think there’s some guys that can get by doing a little less, rely on talent a bit and still do pretty well. But once you get to college, the guys who are successful are the ones who stay consistent and bust their ass every day to get better. You can’t fake it at this level; you really have be committed to living the lifestyle. The training is also a step up from high school; you simply have to run a lot more to be competitive. I can remember in high school when 8 miles was a long run; now, we’ll run 11-12 miles on a recovery day. 

  6) What do you miss about high school running that is not present in college? One of the things I miss is racing all the time in high school. Like I said before, over racing isn’t ever in an athlete’s best interest, but when you get down to it, racing is why we do what we do, and it was a lot of fun to load up in vans every Saturday morning and line up with a couple hundred other guys to go tearing around a golf course or some dusty trails with a bunch of people hollering at you. It’s still a blast, you just do it a little less often. 

  7) You have had two different coaches with different philosophies in terms of training during your first two years in college. Tell us a little about each coach and their training. Last year we were coached by Peter Tegen, who has now moved on to a well-deserved retirement. Peter was a bit unique in terms of training; what he had us do was unlike anything I’ve done before or since. I’ll over-generalize a bit too much here, but if I had to pigeon-hole his training it was more of a low-volume, high-intensity program. We’d work out three days a week and were off Sundays, and there wasn’t too much in the way of hills and long runs. That’s not to say we didn’t run mileage; I was still running more in six days per week than I was in high school running seven days a week. Now we have Jason Dunn coaching us, and things have been really great. We’ve just focused on getting strong, getting tough, and staying consistent. All I’ll say is that I think it’s been working pretty well. 

  8) What distance will you be mainly focusing on in track? For indoors we’ll run a couple 5ks and a couple 3ks. The main focus for outdoors will be 10k, with a few 5k’s thrown in as well. 

  9) What are your goals for this coming season? Goal number one is getting to nationals, which usually takes around 29:00 to get in, and then focus on being competitive in the 10k at NCAAs. Scoring in the 5k and the 10k at PAC-10s is also pretty important. 

  10) I am not sure if you ran your first indoor race but if you did, how did it go? If you haven't, what race are you running and where? We opened our indoor season with a 5k at UW the last weekend in January. It was a solid way for the longer distance guys to kick off the season, with three PR’s and one NCAA auto. I ran 14:11, which was an 11-second drop from what I ran last spring. I wasn’t quite aggressive enough in the middle laps to run as fast as I would have hoped, but I’ll take a PR in January any day of the week. 

  11) What would your advice be for prospective college runners? Work out hard, don’t hammer the off days, run relaxed, run tough, and be confident. 

  12) Anything else you would like to add. Go Cardinal, go Davis, go SJS. 

Thank you very much Brendan! AJC

Saturday, February 07, 2009

2009 USA Cross Country Championships

Results courtesy of USATF

Results - Junior Women's 6 km (Including Buffalo Chips Running Club members Jacque Taylor-Casa Grande, Diana George-Livermore, Sarah Tusting-Benecia, Nicole Mendoza-St. Francis Sacramento, Isabel Andrade-Petaluma, Tiffany Heflin-Lassen and Samantha Diaz-Ponderosa)

Results - Junior Men's 8 km (Including race winner and former Riverbank runner, German Fernandez)

Results - Open Women's 8 km

Results - Open Men's 12 km (Including former Liberty Christian runner, Tim Nelson, former Aptos runner, Brett Gotcher, former James Logan runner Giliat Ghebray, and current USF coach Thomas Kloos)

Let me know if I missed any current or former Northern California runners that took part in any of the races today.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Show your support for Coach Peter Brewer

This is posted in the comment section below but just in case you didn't see it, here you go.

Thursday, February 12, 2009
CVUSD Board Meeting
6pm Board Meeting
Moved to CVHS, Cafetorium

Former Stanford Track and Field coach Payton Jordan RIP

Mr. Jordan, seen here racing in 1997 as he set a new world record in a M80 200, passed away yesterday at the age of 91 after battling cancer. For those of you who don't know who is Payton Jordan, below is his wikipedia page followed be a few newspaper articles. I have personally seen him compete against men his age and he was usually signing autographs as his competitors were still racing:

Stanford track legend Payton Jordan dead at 91 (San Jose Mercury News)

Track and field coach Payton Jordan dead at 91
(Washington Post)
Payton Jordan 1917-2009: Longtime track coach was a legend at Stanford and '68 Olympics (SF Chronicle)

Below you can find a link to a book written about Payton (Champions for Life) a few years ago that describes his years at Stanford and more.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Justin's men of letters

Stanford makes Cardey’s dream become reality

Don’t try to tell Kevin Cardey that dreams don’t come true.

The Justin-Siena High School senior track and field star began the process of searching for just the right college with a great plan and a healthy dose of realism.
“I kind of had a list of schools that I wanted to apply to,” Cardey said. “I had reach schools, safety schools and middle-tier schools. Stanford was my No. 1 choice and Brown University was No. 2. I felt Stanford was a reach.”

Cardey sent information packets to a number of schools, providing information about his considerable accomplishments.
“I had a resume with the things I’d done in sports and in academics,” he said.

“I had letters from some of my coaches and included newspaper articles that showed what I’d done in track and field. A college counselor walked me through it and I sent the packet out to a number of schools last summer.”
The 400-meter and long jump star for Justin and the Napa Track Club was prepared to wait for schools to respond to see which college he’d choose to study and, ideally, continue his track and field career.

And, with a cumulative 4.29 grade-point average and a 30 on the ACT, academics were as important as athletics.

To view the rest of this article, go to the following link:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Gold-medal instruction available (James Logan Clinic)

UNION CITY — Two dozen Olympic track and field athletes and coaches will provide instruction in every event Saturday at the 22nd annual Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic at James Logan High.

The event, which is open to individuals and teams of all levels, will feature special guests Billy Mills, the 1964 Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 meters, Stephanie Brown, gold-medal winner in the discus at the Beijing Olympics last summer, and Pittsburg native Eddie Hart, 4x100 relay gold medalist in 1972.

To view the rest of the article, check out the following link:

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

LIVE VIDEO: Jordan Hasay to announce college plans (today at 2 p.m.)

One of the more anticipated college decisions is finally here. You can check out the live video to see where Jordan Hasay will attend next year at the link below. The choices, apparently, are Washington, Oregon or Stanford. I don't think she can go wrong with picking any of those Universities. Was she swayed by her Olympics Trials experience? Will she become a Cardinal or will she add to the now Washington juggernaut?

LIVE VIDEO: Jordan Hasay to announce college plans (today at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Catching up with Chico St. runner, Joey Kochlacs...

Over the next few weeks, I will try to contact as many recent graduates from Northern California schools who are currently running in college. I think it will be interesting to get their perspective as they reflect back to their high school careers and of their present situation in college.

I will start with former Campolindo runner and current Chico St. runner Joey Kochlacs. He was a state meet qualifier in high school in both cross country and track and field. Following a redshirt season and some unfortunate injuries, Joey is excited for the upcoming track season as he details below.

1) Looking back at your high school career, what do you feel was your best race in cross country? Track and Field?
My best cross country race would have to be the Nike Invite(formerly Adidas) my senior year. State was roughly equivalent that year, but Nike was the breakthrough race.

In track it would have to be the NCS MOC. All year long I would be hanging out with my girlfriend and tell her around 10 oclock that I had to leave so I could win MOC, then I went home and slept. It was kind of a joke the way I said it but nevertheless I went home and slept. Then I won MOC and ironically broke up with her the day before state.

2) What do you think you did in high school that helped prepare you for college in terms of training?
I did more mileage than I was told to(usually 60-70). Long term development requires mileage at a younger age, an aerobic base over a long period of time cannot be underestimated. In retrospect I would have started running before I did, which was my sophomore year during track season, so that I would be better set up for success in the long term. There is a lot of catch up to do now. The good thing was that my coaches, Walsh and Chuck, both helped with my raw speed. Chuck also got my form/mechanics together which is a major plus.

3) How did you end up choosing Chico St.?
I was looking at UCSB and some other UCs when the legend Chris Walsh, who had been my coach my soph and jr years told me about Chico State and another legendary coach, Gary Towne. I looked up some results and I was amazed at what some people had done. A 10:20 two miler becomes a 9:05 steeple chaser, a 9:09 two miler becomes a 27:48 10k runner, it just seemed like everyone could improve from Gary's training. For the most part this is true, but the athletes' decisions outside of running effect their progression most.

4) What has been your toughest adjustment to running in college?
I honestly don't think the mileage increase was too rough. The toughest has been the amount of crazy setbacks that I could not prevent. I fell on black ice, lost a week from my knee being slashed open and another when it got infected. Several major sicknesses which I could not or could barely run through, the worst of which was tonsillitis which was lanced. I finally had my tonsils removed 3 weeks ago though, so that should be the end of the sicknesses.

5) You redshirted during your freshman year in college. How do you think that year will help you in your progression as a runner?
Well it is kind of trading your freshman season for your fifth year season. That could be trading a season of 15:00 5ks for a season of 13:50 5ks depending on the athlete and their progression. Long term development is always a plus.

6) Besides the competition, what are some of the biggest differences between high school and college running?
There are no dual meets, you don't race nearly as often because the races are longer and more taxing on your body. You really have to adjust to the race distances too, I still have to do that.

7) What do you miss about high school running that is not present in college?
No one in high school was so insistent on making me stay up late or being loud in my house late at night. I like my roommates a lot but I still need earplugs here because I am one of those people who don't function properly when they get less than 9 hours of sleep.

8) You have been coached by three very successful coach (Chris Walsh, Chuck Woolridge and Gary Towne). Tell us a little about each coach and what they have meant to your running.
These three coaches are amazing in different aspects. Walsh was really great at inspiring, he made me love running, it was really a great thing that he was my first coach. He oozed optimism. He also had some solid training methods, with multiple top 3 at state finishes in XC and even a state title. He was good and old school, with an aerobic long term approach mixed with some speed workouts etc, but more than anything he inspired us. I also loved Roctober, Led Zeppelin all the way to MT. Sac, Clovis, that was classic Walsh.

Chuck has been said to be Walsh's polar opposite in some ways, he can be a hard ass but I was able to get along with him really well. He wasn't old school, he was Jack Daniels Running Formula in a lot of ways. He was plyometrics etc, form work, vo2 max, lactate threshold. He was cool though, and at times hilarious to an extent that was surprising if not inappropriate. As far as my running, I owe my efficiency to him as well as successful seasons that got me a spot on Chico's roster.

Gary Towne is an awesome coach. He knows his stuff, his training program is great. He always helps me when I have problems, questions, anything. He has helped me grasp the long term approach very strongly, I have been able to ignore my many setbacks to an extent because I have faith in what we are doing. Gary is also a really cool person, I would probably go into his office every day just to hang out and talk about stuff but he is really busy so I try to let him do what he does. Sometimes I see the light in his office is on after 9 o'clock if we are driving by, going to get food or something. He works hard to recruit, come up with our individual training, get people into races, work with the athletic department, go to coaching clinics/meetings, go to practice with us, sometimes he is running 90 miles a week, and he mentors at a local school.

9) What distance will you be mainly focusing on in track?

5k and 10k.

10) What are your goals for this coming season?
Well I would love to get to Division Two Nationals, so by necessity my goals have to be 14:25 which would likely make it in the 5k or 30:25ish which would make it in the 10k. The 10k one is a little more likely but still a far reach from my fitness right now.

11) What would your advice be for prospective college runners?

Go somewhere where the coach looks long term. I will probably be better at this question later in life because right now my mind is "running running running."

12) Anything else you would like to add.

Uhm. Thanks to my coaches and friends.

Thank you very much Joey! AJC

If you would like to see other athletes who are currently running in college interviewed, please forward me their name and contact information to

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