Saturday, October 31, 2009

University of Portland's Amazing Conference Streak

Moving this post up from 2 years ago. Make it 31 years in a row for the Portland men in the WCC. Check out the results at the following link:
Men's Results:
Women's Results:

The University of Portland won the West Coast Conference Men's Cross Country Team title today for the 29th year in a row at the Crystal Springs Course. While the streak is amazing enough by itself, if you look at the numbers closely, you find that the streak is even more impressive.

To begin, Portland today scored 32 points for the victory. That was the HIGHEST score they have had in 29 victories! The streak started in 1979 with their first conference victory when their top five runners all came in at the same time and were all declared the winners. They have accomplished the score of 15 (first five runners in the race) TEN TIMES! In fact, they were able to score a perfect score of 15, five years in a row (1995-1999).

Portland also had the individual winner from 1979-2006. Think about that one for a second. They had the individual and team winner for 28 straight years! While the team victory streak remained intact today, the individual winner streak is over. University of San Francisco's Cheyne Inman was the individual winner as he completed the 8K course in 25:20 and defeated the top 4 Portland runners who finished 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th.

Their women's team has been successful in their own right by winning their 6th straight title today and their 17th victory in the 22 year history of the women's division.

I think people throw the word dynasty around way too loosely. What Portland has accomplished IS definitely a dynasty!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching up with Sacramento State coach, Scott Abbott...

The following interview was done by former Evergreen Valley runner, Kevin Liao. Scott Abbott is the head cross country and distance track coach for Sacramento State. In a very short time, Scott has recruited one of the best class of runners in California as he attempts to put Sac. State back on the running map. During his high school days, he was a key member of 3 Jesuit HS state cross country championship teams. He competed at UCLA with one of the America's best distance runners (as you will see below) under the tutelage of the legendary Bob Larson. We both would like to thank Scott for taking the time to answer Kevin's questions.

1. What is your background in running? When did you start running?
I always loved playing sports and competing athletically. When I got to high school; however, I was pretty under-developed, so I wasn't sure what I would be successful at. I heard the cross country team went to Disneyland, so I thought that sounded cool...that's how it all began.

I was lucky enough to play a major role on some amazing teams at Jesuit winning three straight state cross country championships. I was fortunate to have an amazing coach (see below) and amazing teammates (21 of my high school teammates went on to run at D1 universities), including my good friend and classmate, Michael Stember, who went on to be an Olympian in the 1500m, and who is still one of the most physically-gifted middle distance runners I have ever come across.

After Jesuit, I ran for UCLA where I was team captain in both my junior and senior seasons and lead an awesome group of guys at UCLA who are all still very close friends of mine. I was also very proud of graduating Magna Cum Laude from UCLA. While at UCLA, I was also blessed with the opportunity to be teammates and good friends with Meb Keflezighi, who will go down in history as one of America's greatest distance runners. I learned (and still learn) so much from Meb about how to approach the sport, as I have never come across a runner who has more integrity in his approach to the sport than Meb.

2. You were coached by Walt Lange at the legendary program at Jesuit. Talk about your experiences while in high school.
Oh, where to begin with this is hard to sum up in a few words the experience of running for Coach Lange at Jesuit, as it was probably the most definitive experience in my life, and really helped form me in so many ways into the person that I am today. Much of success I have had academically, athletically, and personally, I can chart back in some way to the life-transferring skills that I developed in Coach Lange's program.

It is easy to focus on Coach Lange's phenomenal record (9 State XC Championships; more sub-4:05 1600m and 9:10 3200m runners than any other high school coach ever) to recognize what a great coach he is, but to truly capture why he is undoubtedly the finest high school coach in America, you have to go to practice on a daily basis and watch his simple, no frills, consistent interaction with his athletes of all levels. A student-athlete that persists 4 years in his program, regardless of what level they have achieved at, accomplishes something more significant than any tangible award or record; they will have developed the understanding that personal success is achieved simply and patiently through showing up on a daily basis and effectively and diligently getting your work done. Such a simple message, but such a powerful tool to arm young adults with as they head out into a world where more and more people try to cut corners and are in a constant search for instant gratification or the easiest way out.

3. Besides Walt, who do you consider to be your coaching mentors?
Bob Larsen was my college coach and he was a master of organization and his easy-going and patient style has always been something I try to incorporate in my approach with my athletes. Eric Peterson was the head coach at UCLA when I worked as an assistant there, and he is an excellent motivator and very involved with his athletes. He really showed me how an individualized approach to an athlete can help bring out the best out in them.

As a UCLA alum, I feel obligated to mention Coach Wooden as well. It is impossible to be a UCLA student-athlete, and furthermore, a coach, and not have Coach Wooden leave a petrified footprint on your personal and professional development.

4. When did you become interested in coaching? How did your experiences while running at Jesuit and UCLA influence the decision?
Actually, I really became interested in coaching after college when I worked as a school teacher for 4 years, and I realized that I really loved interacting with young people and helping them pursue their passions. I felt that coaching combined all of this with my competitive attitude and love of sports.

5. What were the biggest lessons you learned in your first stints of coaching at the high school level at Bend High School in Oregon and Jesuit and at the collegiate level at UCLA?
In my experiences coaching and teaching, I have learned that people learn, develop, and perform best when they are involved and invested in the process. It is amazing how much people can accomplish when they feel like they have ownership in a given experience. So often coaches (and teachers) feel like they need to be the holder of truths or that the flow of information and control has to be unilateral. In all of my experiences, from teaching middle schoolers, to coaching high schoolers and college athletes, to working with Olympians during my internship at the Olympic Training Center, I have learned that the very best teachers and coaches are those who can stand alongside their students or athletes and go through the process with them in a cooperative manner. It is about understanding where they would like to go, then helping them draw a map to get there, and walking beside them every step of the way. You may achieve limited success in coaching by drawing the map for them and telling them which way to go, but the great coaches ultimately bring out the best in their athletes by involving the athletes in this process. The sport of distance running, in particular, is such a personal pursuit and requires such a strong ability for the athlete to self-motivate, you can really retard an athlete's ultimate level of achievement by being a "control-freak", for lack of a better term.

6. If you were able to go back to coaching in high school, what would you do differently?
This is tough because I worked under two very successful high school coaches in Bob Latham at Bend and Walt Lange at Jesuit, so I kind of just followed their leads while I was there; however, if I was to give advice about something that I underestimated the importance of at the high school level, it is RECRUITING. I know this is the forbidden word (especially when talking about a private school power like Jesuit), but I am not talking about recruiting middle-schoolers to come to your school to run; I am talking about recruiting within your campus walls. The successful programs do have great coaches that understand the sport, but lets be honest, they aren't coaching a bunch of "beefaloes"; they are coaches that are good at getting talented runners to come out for the sport and are good at keeping the interest level of the runners to keep them in the sport. High school coaches have to constantly sell the sport to their team and to talented runners on campus. The top teams usually have the most runners at every level (frosh-soph, JV, ect.). Bottom line is you have to be relentless about getting kids out and keeping them out. You can be the greatest physiologist in the world and understand training and distance running like no other, but if you don't have kids with ability, you will not be successful.

7. What was the state of the Sacramento State distance program when you took over in 2007? Were there any major changes you had to make?
I took over a distance program at Sacramento State that had been through a very rough stretch of years since moving to Division I. They had a great tradition of excellence at the D2 level in the 70s and 80s, but kind of sputtered as they moved into D1 in the mid-90s. They had gone through a lot of coaching turnover when I arrived, and really the first step was to just establish some stability. As a Sacramento native and someone who has decided that this is where I would like to be to raise my family, I have made a long-term commitment to this university and to the process of building the program at Sacramento State into a championship-caliber program that can be competitive at the national level.

Upon taking over here, I was pleasantly surprised by the how motivated, talented, and committed the current team was, and also by some of the great things that were in place within the track and field program, the athletic department, and the university as a whole. There haven't been really any drastic changes that needed to be made, as I truly believe that there is little institutionally/organically preventing Sacramento State distance running from being very competitive. Rather it has just taken a commitment to the process of working with the student-athletes, recruiting top talent, and attaching the program with the community here in Sacramento. This is a commitment that has been void for some years here, and I believe that we have made significant strides in the past 2 years towards putting this program in the thick of things here in the West Region.

8. You’ve had excellent recruiting classes over the last few years. Talk about some of the athletes you’ve brought in and the process of recruiting them to run at Sac State.
The recruiting has gone well, which really is a testament to what a great product we are selling. One of my core philosophies in taking over the program here was to "secure our borders" in recruiting first and foremost. There is so much talent in this region, and it is such a shame that historically so much of it has left the region. It would be one thing, if they were leaving and going off to other parts of the country or to major conference schools, but we have lost a lot of local recruits over the years to other state schools and other mid-major schools, and that is really disheartening. I really respect the athletes that we signed in my first season that really got the ball rolling for us in the process of securing our borders.

On the men's side, Cameron Mitchell and Chris Romo from Woodcreek High School and Kyle Lackner from Jesuit were three guys in particular that bought into this idea and had the courage to choose Sac State and really take the reigns in this building process. Without those three guys and their pioneering spirit, I really don't think we would have been able to parlay such a fine recruiting class this past year that included Dan Mitchell (Del Campo 8:56/4:15), Matt Case (Del Campo 1:52/4:17), Nathanael Litwiller (Clayton Valley 1:52, 4:14), Cole Younger (Mt. Whitney 1:53), Jake Arveson (Monterey 1:53), Natinayel Wolde (Willow Glen 4:23), Robert Davis (Royal 1:55), and Devin Lockert (Petaluma 1:56).

On the women's side, interestingly, our program has gotten a face lift from a handful of local athletes that have returned to the area via transfer to revive their careers here at Sacramento State. This is further testament that we have become a very attractive option for the local athlete, even those that have gone off to other places. Lea Wallace (Vintage HS/Cal Poly), Erin Lewis (Modesto HS/Univ of Oregon), Caprice Bradshaw (Fairfield HS/New Mexico St), and Jenni Eiremo (El Camino HS/Iona) were four very high level local products that have found their way back to the area and come together to give our women's program a shot in the arm, and this past year, we built on this by signing Rachel Mitchell (American HS 10:44/5:02) and Danzel Bradshaw (2:16/5:06), and we now have a women's program that is in a position to really make some noise at the conference, regional, and national level.

The bottom line in recruiting has been that we have been the "right fit" for so many of these athletes, academically, athletically, and socially. We aren't snake-oil salesmen, we have just done a very good job at finding athletes where this is the right vibe for them. We provide a D1 program that is competitive at the highest levels where athletes can come in and make an impact right away and play a significant role in the exciting process of leading a team on the rise, and to do so at a major state university in the capitol city on a campus with phenomenal athletic facilities and an optimal training environment for a distance runner in terms of accessible running trails.

9. What are some of the biggest changes for most high school athletes when they adjust to college? How can incoming freshmen better prepare themselves for this transition?
This is a great question, as I honestly feel that cross country runners have the toughest transition of any student-athletes in moving from high school to college. Partly because the dynamics of the sport itself actually change, especially for the men. The guys move from 5K to 8K/10K and the women move from 5K to 6K. No other freshmen athletes have to go through this (the basketball hoop isn't raised a few extra feet, the pitchers mound isn't further away, etc.), so essentially the basics of the sport are the same for the other athletes, the level of competition is just elevated. Freshmen cross country runners go through an elevated level of competition as well as a fundamental change in their sport, and they have to adjust to this often before they even start classes and are officially a college student. It is a difficult transition, not to mention dealing with be surrounded by athletes on a daily basis in practice and in competition that have all achieved at the highest levels, and finding yourself positioned in races in unfamiliar places (ie further back), as well as managing, most likely, an increased training load in both volume and intensity. They have to do all of this while moving away from home for the first time, adjusting to a more independent academic environment, and then dealing with all of the social dynamics that the college environment provides.

As far as preparing for it, freshmen can do themselves a great service by really communicating with their new coaches and future teammates in the summertime to make sure they are training at a proper level, so they do not get ambushed in the first few weeks with a major increase in training. I also believe it is very important to make a good first impression, and to make a significant commitment to get out of the gates well academically, athletically, and socially. So many adjustment issues can be traced back to student-athletes just getting off on a bad foot in the first few weeks of college, maybe thinking "hey, I'm just a freshman, what I do doesn't really matter...I can always get back on track later." This is a very dangerous approach.

I know a lot of programs will blanket redshirt all freshmen, and I understand why they do this; however, if an athlete is healthy and ready to contribute, I really think it is important to let them compete to get integrated with the team and the lifestyle of a student-athlete, so they will hopefully start establishing good habits.

10. Talk about the clinics that you’ve organized for the last number of years. Who are the targets of these camps? What are some important lessons that you emphasize to coaches and athletes at your events?
I run the Cross Country Base Camp in Marin, CA every summer. It is a camp for high school runners, and it is a lot of fun. We try to create an environment where high schoolers can learn to really enjoy the sport (back to the idea of selling the sport) and enjoy the process of working to get better. We have clinics from elite athletes, coaches, and dietitians about sport performance, so we do want the campers to learn; however, my most important goal is for them to have a good time. It is a great opportunity for high school runners to meet other runners that share similar goals and are equally enthusiastic about their sport. Often, distance runners are not the most celebrated athletes on their campuses, so hopefully, summer running camp can allow them to come together with like-minded people and have a good time with their sport and continue to fuel their passion for it.

11. Your profile says you did your master’s thesis on NCAA track & field reform. What are some things the average track fan doesn’t know about the shift from amateurism in track and field?
When I started coaching at the college level, I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Sport Management. Part of the goal of that was to increase my body of knowledge and my body of work in order to be more successful at what I do. That degree has allowed me to approach this career not just as a running fan, a former runner, or as a guy looking for a fun/cool job, but rather as a sport professional who understands the dynamic and somewhat complicated world of college sports. To be a successful coach at the college level, you have to be able to do more than just recruit and coach athletes or understand training theory, you have to be able to navigate a tangled administrative and bureaucratic environment. There is a lot of politics in the sport at the highest levels, and it is important to approach that aspect of coaching as a "coat and tie" professional, rather than as a guy in sweats with a stopwatch in hand.

My thesis looked critically at the structure of our sport at the collegiate level and examined ways to make our sport more attractive to the general public, as well as function more efficiently and effectively in order to enhance the competitive experiences of all track and field athletes at every level.

12. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Not really...I am pretty certain I have already been way too long-winded as it is; I do want to commend you guys at, as it is so important for our sport to have people that do your work, especially at the insanely committed level that you guys do. This is where our sport lives, and the internet has been the single most important factor in not only keeping our sport alive and relevant, but is has really been a driving factor in the huge gains that the sport has made in performance and visibility. Your site is bookmarked on my web browser and I love reading everything that you guys put up. Keep up the good work!

Scott Abbott
Cross Country/Distance Coach
Sacramento State Track and Field

Sacramento State Track and Field

2007, 2008, 2009 Big Sky Champions

2000, 2004 US Olympic Trials Host

2003, 2005-2007 NCAA Championship Host

Central Coast Section Newspaper articles...

Finally at full strength, Live Oak girls readying for BVALs (

Estifanos takes second at Crystal Springs meet (

Gunn, Palo Alto will race after league honors (

Girls' cross country loses City Championships to Gunn (thepalyvoice)

North County running tradition isn't slowing down (

Sac-Joaquin Section newspaper articles...

Ruegg, Miller race to titles in MEL meet (

Garcia, Grolle win VOL titles (

Hughson's Hobby, Escalon's Barnum claim TVL crowns (

Golden day for Golden Valley: Mallory, boys win cross country conference titles (

Local teams vying for league titles (

The Human Body Is Built for Distance

Does running a marathon push the body further than it is meant to go?

The conventional wisdom is that distance running leads to debilitating wear and tear, especially on the joints. But that hasn’t stopped runners from flocking to starting lines in record numbers.

Last year in the United States, 425,000 marathoners crossed the finish line, an increase of 20 percent from the beginning of the decade, Running USA says. Next week about 40,000 people will take part in the New York City Marathon. Injury rates have also climbed, with some studies reporting that 90 percent of those who train for the 26.2-mile race sustain injuries in the process.

But now a best-selling book has reframed the debate about the wisdom of distance running. In “Born to Run” (Knopf), Christopher McDougall, an avid runner who had been vexed by injuries, explores the world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a tribe known for running extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals.

Mr. McDougall makes the case that running isn’t inherently risky. Instead, he argues that the commercialization of urban marathons encourages overzealous training, while the promotion of high-tech shoes has led to poor running form and a rash of injuries.

“The sense of distance running being crazy is something new to late-20th-century America,” Mr. McDougall told me. “It’s only recently that running has become associated with pain and injury.”

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Born to Run

Check out the following book review for Born to Run, a running book many are raving about:
Born To Run Book Review

You can find the book at the following link:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Northern California Teams and Individuals at Mt. SAC 2009

As posted on Keith Conning's website THE CONNING TOWER:

Boys Teams
Place, Overall, School, City, Section, Points, Team Time, Avg. Runner
1 4 Mountain View, CCS 515 1:18:18 15:39
2 10 San Ramon Valley, Danville, NCS 782 1:19:58 15:59
3 19 Davis, SJS 1119 1:20:19 16:03
4 23 Castro Valley, NCS 1191 1:20:45 16:09
5 26 De La Salle, Concord, NCS 1238 1:20:55 16:11
6 35 Carlmont, Belmont, CCS 1473 1:21:18 16:15
7 40 College Park, Pleasant Hill, NCS 1595 1:21:26 16:17
8 66 Fairfield, SJS 2296 1:22:29 16:29
9 73 Northgate, Walnut Creek, NCS 2444 1:22:52 16:34
10 89 Alameda, NCS 3067 1:23:21 16:40

Boys Individuals
Time, Grade, Name, (School, City, Section)
Key: -=senior, *=junior
14:42 -Erik Olson (Novato, NCS)
14:55 -Garrett Rowe (Mountain View, CCS)
15:01 -Kurt Ruegg (Napa, SJS)
15:10 -Luca Signore (Lynbrook, San Jose, CCS)
15:15 -Reesey Byers (Santa Rosa, NCS)
15:22 -Charlie Perkins (Alameda, NCS)
15:29 *Trevor Halsted (Davis, SJS)
15:30 -Weston Strum (Pioneer, San Jose, CCS)
15:31 *Parker Schuh (Mountain View, CCS)
15:41 *Ethan Scardina (Carlmont, Belmont, CCS)
15:41 *Jeff Bickert (College Park, Pleasant Hill, NCS)
15:41 *Ben Eversole (Castro Valley, NCS)

Girls Teams
Place, Overall, School, Section, Points, Team Time, Avg. Runner
1 26 Carlmont, Belmont, CCS 1040 1:35:28 19:05
2 28 Davis, SJS 1161 1:36:38 19:19
3 32 Castro Valley, NCS 1278 1:37:05 19:25
4 36 Monte Vista, Danville, NCS 1675 1:38:56 19:47
5 56 Mountain View, CCS 2207 1:39:52 19:58
6 59 San Ramon Valley, Danville, NCS 2357 1:40:45 20:09
7 60 Carondelet, Concord, NCS 2363 1:40:14 20:02
8 63 Livermore, NCS 2401 1:40:39 20:07
9 74 Vacaville, SJS 2649 1:41:37 20:19
10 77 Casa Grande, Petaluma, NCS 2682 1:39:51 19:58

Girls Individuals
Time, Grade, Name, (School, City, Section)
Key: -=senior, *=junior, ***=freshman
17:32 –Jacque Taylor (Casa Grande, Petaluma, NCS)
17:45 *Jessie Peterson (Carlmont, Belmont, CCS)
18:07 ***Karlie Garcia (Oakmont, Roseville, SJS)
18:16 –Christine Bowlus (Davis, SJS)
18:25 –Breanna Lewis (Sheldon, Sacramento, SJS)
18:26 –Heather Cerney (Carondelet, Concord, NCS)
18:28 –Martina De Geus (Mountain View, CCS)
18:32 *Elaine McVay (California, San Ramon, NCS)
18:32 ***Corin Soelberg (Carlmont, Belmont, CCS)
18:34 *Kelsey Santisteban (Castro Valley, NCS)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NCS Rankings #4

Boys (Updated)
1) San Ramon Valley
2) Castro Valley
3) De La Salle
4) Petaluma
5) College Park
6) Las Lomas
7) Amador Valley
8) Campolindo
9) Monte Vista
10) Northgate
10) Alameda

1) Castro Valley
2) Campolindo
3) Monte Vista
4) Casa Grande
4) San Ramon Valley
6) Acalanes
7) Amador Valley
8) College Park
9) Carondelet
10) Livermore


1) Erik Olson Novato
2) Hugh Dowdy Petaluma
3) Reesey Byers Santa Rosa
4) Dan Milechman Tamalpais
5) Luis Luna Piner
6) Josh MacDonald Redwood Christian
7) Charlie Perkins Alameda
8) Paul Johnson De La Salle
9) Andrew Zellman Ukiah
10) Ben Eversole Castro Valley

1) Julie Nacouzi Montgomery
2) Jacque Taylor Casa Grande
3) Colleen Lillig California
4) Alycia Cridebring College Park
5) Kelsey Santisteban Castro Valley
6) Theresa Devine Marin Catholic
7) Lucy McCullough Marin Academy
8) Carrie Verdon Campolindo
9) Grace Orders Campolindo
10) Holland Reynolds University


Mid-Season Norcal Rankings

Please feel free to comment on the rankings below. Updated following Mt. SAC Invitational. Castro Valley had an impressive effort on the boys' side. Anybody else should be considered to move up either list?

1) Mt. View CCS Division II
2) Davis Sr. SJS Division I
3) San Ramon Valley NCS Division I
4) Oak Ridge SJS Division I
5) Bellarmine CCS Division I
6) Gunn CCS Division II
7) Castro Valley NCS Division I
8) Carlmont CCS Division I
9) Petaluma NCS Division III
10) Del Campo SJS Division II

Honorable Mention (15 teams in alphabetical order)
Alameda NCS Division II
Amador Valley NCS Division I
Aptos CCS Division III
Campolindo NCS Division III
College Park NCS Division II
De La Salle NCS Division I
El Camino SJS Division III
Enterprise NS Division IV
Fairfield SJS Division II
Jesuit SJS Division II
Las Lomas NCS Division III
Livermore NCS Division I
Miramonte NCS Division III
Monte Vista NCS Division I
Northgate NCS Division III
Palo Alto CCS Division II
Salinas CCS Division I
St. Mary's Berkeley NCS Division IV

1) Oak Ridge SJS Division I
2) Campolindo NCS Division III
3) Aptos CCS Division III
4) Gunn CCS Division I
5) Davis Sr. SJS Division I
6) Mt. View CCS Division II
7) Carlmont CCS Division I
8) Castro Valley NCS Division I
9) Casa Grande NCS Division II
10) Monte Vista NCS Division I

Honorable Mention (15 teams in alphabetical order)
Acalanes NCS Division III
College Park NCS Division II
Del Oro SJS Division III
Evergreen Valley CCS Division I
Gilroy CCS Division I
Granite Bay SJS Division II
Leigh CCS Division II
Livermore NCS Division I
Los Gatos CCS Division II
Maria Carrillo NCS Division III
Mitty CCS Division II
Presentation CCS Division II
St. Francis, Sacramento SJS Division II
St. Ignatius CCS Division III
University HS NCS Division V
Woodcreek SJS Division II

Again, comments are welcome. I want to make the above list as accurate as possible before we head into the league, section and eventually, the state meet.

Norcal Rankings Individuals

Look for some adjustments following the Mt. SAC Invitational. There were definitely some movers and shakers from the meet. Appreciate any help with who should move up or down or is missing from the lists below.

Erik Olson Novato NCS
Garrett Rowe Mt. View CCS
Philip MacQuitty Palo Alto CCS
Corey Coates Davis Sr. SJS
Paul Summers Gunn CCS
Kurt Ruegg Napa SJS-added
Luca Signore Lynbrook CCS
Reesey Byers Santa Rosa NCS
Trevor Halstead Davis Sr. SJS
Dan Milechman Tamalpais NCS
Hugh Dowdy Petaluma NCS
Parker Schuh Mt. View CCS
Weston Strum Pioneer CCS
Luis Luna Piner NCS NCS
Mitch Moriarity Aptos CCS-added
Charlie Perkins Alameda NCS-added
Roberto Rosas Grace Davis SJS-added
Dominic D'Acquisto Enterprise NS-added
Adam Kelly Strong Jesuit SJS
Chris Kigar El Camino SJS

Julie Nacouzi Montgomery NCS
Jacque Taylor Casa Grande NCS
Jessie Petersen Carlmont CCS
Brooke Holt Granite Bay SJS
Colleen Lillig California NCS
Marissa Ferrante Aptos CCS
Hayley Scott Oak Ridge SJS
Erin Robinson Gunn CCS
Courtney Crosta Woodcreek SJS
Karlie Garcia Oakmont SJS-added
Christine Bowlus Davis SJS
Isabel Andrade Petaluma NCS
Carrie Verdon Campolindo NCS
Breanna Lewis Sheldon SJS-added
Heather Cerney Carondelet NCS-added
Alycia Cridebring College Park NCS-added
Allison Sturges Mt. View CCS-added
Martina DeGeus Mt. View CCS-added
Rachel Hinds St. Ignatius CCS-added
Theresa Devine Marin Catholic NCS
Lucy McCullough Marin Academy NCS
Holland Reynolds University NCS
Corin Soelberg Carlmont CCS-added
Erin Hicks Los Altos CCS-added

You see the top 15 names above. I will add 5 more runners as long as you give data for them such as, hey, so and so beat so and so above at the following two races. How come, he or she is not ranked? Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NorCal Rankings will be posted today...

Feel free to chime in on what teams belong on the list which will include a top 10 and 15 honorable mention teams (boys and girls). I will also post the top 10 runners for both boys and girls.

Who are the top 10 teams? Individuals? What teams are on the rise as we head toward the league final season? What individuals are rolling right now?

Thank you in advance for your comments.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Question about difference in reps and volume for boys and girls...


A question came up about the differences of training volume for boys and girls. From your experience in dealing with boys and girls, do the top girls do the same reps and volume as the top guys when it comes to workouts? Mileage? Do they do less? What are your thoughts on this subject?

Thank you in advance for your contributions to this topic. Athletes, feel free to chime in.
Bumping this one back to top. Some great comments so far. Anybody else wants to contribute to this discussion?

Lockert Leads Loyola

Posted by Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

Just three meets into his college cross country career, Sterling Lockert, the Petaluma High School record setting runner, has helped lead Loyola Marymount University to strong showings in premier races.

On Saturday, Lockert was the Lions’ top finisher in the college race at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., one of the nation’s top invitational races. Lockert finished 31st in a field of 194 and Loyola was sixth among 29 teams. The teams ahead of the Lions included the winner, No. 4 Oklahoma State, followed by No. 23 Oklahoma and No. 25 Arkansas.

Lockert has steadily improved on already strong times for a freshman runner on the NCAA level. First-year college runners face the challenge of racing over eight kilometer courses compared with shorter high school distances, such as the five kilometer CIF State Cross Country Championships that Lockert ran for Petaluma.

To read the rest of the article, go to the following link:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where Are They Now? Dylan Shawhan

Following a stellar track and cross country career at Los Gatos High School, Dylan Shawhan is now competing in both sports at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Shawhan is a red-shirt freshman in cross country after sitting out last season with an injury. The distance runner healed up in time to compete for the Cougars track team last spring.

Shawhan and the No. 6-ranked Cougars cross country team head this weekend to compete at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana. They will run an 8K event at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Championship Course, the same course where the NCAA Championships will occur later this fall.

To read the rest of the article, go to the followink link:

Where Are They Now? Dylan Shawhan

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Catching up with Jesuit HS coach, Walt Lange...

Couple of follow up questions for Walt.

1) What are your thoughts on strength training for distance runners?
A lot of this is quite beneficial. I know some very good programs have morning weight training sessions. In the past we did a lot of drills with hurdles, medicine balls, etc. Nowadays our guys do hurdle drills and some ab stuff, mostly on their own after a running workout.

2) What about the 70s versus now? What is so different? What is the same?
It seems to me the 70s training placed the greatest emphasis on volume. Double sessions, 15-20 mile Sunday runs were imperative. A thousand miles in 3 months during the off-season. In the 80's and 90's the trend was to less volume. Seems there's more miles being run now than in the 80's and 90's.

3) What have we learned since then?
There was no state cross country meet in the 70's. Very little travel out of your immediate area or section for competition. That changed in the late 70's and into the 80's. There's a lot more thought into training programs with periodization, supplementary activities, and an awareness of what your competition is doing thanks to the internet.

Today we chat with one of the most successful Cross Country and Track and Field coaches in the state of California, Jesuit HS coach, Walt Lange. He has led the Mauraders to 9 state championships in Cross Country which ties them with McFarland for the most state championships. Walt has also had extraordinary success on the track with several state champions (1600-Mark Mastalir in '86 and Michael Stember in '95 and 3200-Erik Mastalir in '86, Paul Thomas in '87, David Welch in '89 and Matt Farley in '93). Walt's team website ( has also been a great resource for many coaches as well.

1) What sports did you participate in during your youth?

Surprise! track & cross country. Cut from frosh baseball and went out for track.

2) How did you get started coaching cross country? What other sports have you coached?
As a college student in Los Angeles area, while training at a nearby high school I befriended the distance runners on the team. They were basically un-coached and I stepped in.

3) Who were your mentors when you first started coaching?
I got a lot of help from Bill Leeds at Crespi Carmelite and Dick Scully at South Torrance.

4) What was your first year at Jesuit? What was the state of the program when you first started? What subjects did you teach at the school?
I started in the 1970-71 school year. The program had some remarkable talent at that time but was running fairly low volume. We probably doubled the volume after that first year. In 1972 Mike Tully took the school 2 mile record down to 9:15 from somewhere in the 9:40's.

I taught mostly Social Sciences, primarily U.S. History for 30 years.

5) What athlete(s) can you identify at the beginning of your career at Jesuit that bought into your program and took Jesuit to a new level?
Already mentioned Mike Tulley. There were several others: Rich Kimball (transferred to De La Salle), Hugh Miller (2:43 marathon as a frosh), Rod Read (9:07 2 mile as a junior), Earl Lagomarsino (9:18 3200), and Dirk Feenstra (9:16 3200). These were the high volume years and these guys usually ran double sessions and the marathon was not an usual event to contest. Tom O'Neil set our still-standing school record in 1977 with a 2:24:32.

6) What are the advantages and disadvantages of the area that surrounds Jesuit HS in terms of training?
We're about 600 yards from the American River Parkway. Great dirt trails go for 12 miles in both directions. The disadvantage is a complete lack of hills.

7) What have been the major changes to the sport of cross country from when you first started coaching to now?
We now have girls cross country. The distance was raised from 2 miles to 5k. There are so many more sports and activities competing for the talent pool, it really is amazing. And most of those activities are year-round, discouraging a talented runner from even considering our
sport. Parental involvement--you now have to recruit the parent as well as the runner.

8) In what ways have you changed as a coach during that period of time?
Not much. Can't run anymore, so I bike it.

9) Your teams have won 9 state cross country championships. What do you feel have been the keys to winning those state championships?
It really helps to have the talent. We have had some enter Jesuit with a running background, but most of our top guys came to Jesuit not planning to be distance runners and went on to the highest levels. That has been very gratifying.

10) What technology do you use now that has made your coaching easier?
A lot of stuff--I'm a bit of a tech geek. Our latest stuff is use of things like flotrackr,, XCStats. I'm having fun twittering race videos from my iPhone during meets. We use a display
clock for most of our workouts. I put it in the back window of my car and from it every runner gets a time for his assigned run. All our runs are mapped (see our team website) and we have pace charts for every one of them. Pretty cool stuff.

11) What do you think can be done to improve the sport of cross country in California?
Chip timing and large scoreboards displaying scores and times as the races progress. We have 4 scoreboards on our campus, as most schools do, but none for cross country or track. At a cross country meet we wait 30 minutes to an hour (or go home and get the results in a few days) to view results on a single sheet of paper that hundreds of people are attempting to read at the same time. Try that in football and see what reaction you would get. I feel we are at the stage track was in when sprinters dug holes in the track for starting. When we get chip timing & display boards it will transform the meet experience for athletes and spectators.

12) What would be your advice for a new cross country coach just starting out?
It takes time to build a program. Go around the campus and "grip and grin"--get as many athletes as you can to come out. Plan on spending a LOT of time at it. Get good assistants (I have three who are exceptional). Have an understanding spouse.

For those of you that are interested in Walt's training, check out the two following links:
Mark Mastalir's '86 Track Training Log
Austin Ramos' '03 Track Training Log

Thank you very much for your time Walt! AJC

Cross Country Newspaper Coverage...


Luis Luna: Piner, Sophomore, Cross Country (

Boys prep of the week: Dan Milechman (

Dowdy leads Petaluma boys to big win in Clovis meet

Backups hold their own
Cross-country teams rest starters, still earn top spots

If you know of other similar articles, forward them my way to I will be happy to post.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching up with Evergreen Valley HS runner, Samantha Garcia...

In less than two years on the CCS running scene, Evergreen Valley sophomore Samantha Garcia has achieved a great deal. She qualified for the cross country state meet in 2008 with a ninth place finish at the CCS championships. During track season, Garcia broke out with a 11:14.32 PR in the 3200m, good enough for the tenth best time in the section in 2009, in addition to being BVAL champion and a CCS finalist in the eight lap event. So far this cross country season, she has proved herself as one of the best in the CCS, with a third place finish at both the Earlybird and Artichoke Invitationals. Garcia recently broke the Evergreen Valley school record at their home course, Montgomery Hill, with a time of 18:26 over 2.74 miles.

The following interview was conducted by Evergreen Valley alum Kevin Liao.

  1. You had a lot of success while running on the middle school level. Talk about those achievements and how they influenced you heading into high school.

    In middle school, I won county sectionals in the seventh grade. In eighth grade I almost won again, but came in second by inches, and learned an important lesson (like not looking behind you near the finish). I gained confidence that I was a very competitive runner and if I continued to improve could also compete at the high school level.

  1. What other sports have you played other than cross country and track?

    I’ve participated in the following sports: swimming, basketball, and soccer. I have been on a Cabana league swim team since I was six years old, which is a lot of fun. I played basketball both years in Jr. High, but don’t play anymore. I love soccer the best but may have to stop playing because possible injuries would not allow me to run.

  1. You had a strong cross country season last year, but made a big jump during last year’s track season and continuing that this year. What do you attribute this to?

    Having never participated in track, I was surprised how well I did. I discovered that I liked track. I enjoy the competition. The combination of great coaching and well designed workouts has made me a better runner. Along with the more experienced senior runners on the team who have given me tips and support throughout cross country and track.

  1. Tell us a little about your coaches and what has they have done for you to become a person and runner.

    My soccer coach, Terry, encouraged me to pursue my running career. She offered words of wisdom, because she too was a runner in high school. Coach Jim Sena, my cross country coach, is an amazing coach. He knows what he is talking about. Having been a CCS Cross Country Champion, he brings experience and he shares this with his runners. (Interviewer’s note: Sena was CCS small schools champion in 1970 while running for James Lick) His style of coaching is perfect for me. He and I have a great relationship. I have lots of respect for coach Sena. Also in track it is obvious that the workouts Coach Jonathan Hubbs designed helped me be successful.

  1. Evergreen Valley has a strong girls squad this season. But with Gilroy, Carlmont, and now Gunn in Division I, what do you think of your team’s chances to qualify to the state meet?

    I think we have a great chance to qualify for the state meet. We have our returning runners who are talented and have worked out strong during the summer. We have some new runners who if they continue to improve, put us in good shape to possibly win CCS. We just all hope everybody stays healthy to the end.

  1. Do you have a favorite run? Favorite workout? Favorite course? Favorite competitor(s)?

    I enjoy running up Chaboya Road and Higuera Road, in the east foothills of San Jose. They are both challenging hills, and the view from the top is spectacular. Favorite workout? I don’t like fartleks, but I enjoy long runs, hills, and track workouts. In the league, my favorite competitors are the Barnett sisters from Leland. Each race with them was always interesting. I’m always just trying to improve and beat somebody who has beaten me before. At Earlybird this year, I thought I could give Allison Sturges [of Mountain View] some competition, but [Valley Christian’s] Morgan Lira improved five minutes from last year and beat me. At the Half Moon Bay invitational, I was hoping to keep up with Jessie Peterson, but instead got beaten by Carlmont freshman Corin Soleberg. So now I have more competitors I want to beat.

  1. Many people consider your big breakthrough race to be your win in the 3200m at BVAL track finals last season. Talk about how that race played out for you and the confidence it helped you build for the future.

    The morning of the BVAL league finals, I woke up knowing I had to run against Stephanie Barnett, the person I had admired since cross country season. My goal for that evening was to beat her. Throughout the entire race I stayed behind Stephanie, drafting off of her. She paced, I ran. With the last 300 meters to go I knew I had to take off or I would not win the race. On the back stretch, when I passed her I was freaking out because there was no one in front of me and I had just passed Stephanie Barnett. My body and breathing felt great, and my legs had a super fast turn over. Coming into the final stretch I had the crowd cheering for me, (probably 3/4th of the crowd was my relatives) and I sprinted all the way to the finish. When Coach Hubbs told me the time, I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I realized that since I was able to beat a high caliber runner such as Stephanie Barnett, and improved my time (11:14) that I would be able to compete at a higher level than I had been competing. At the end of the race, I was so excited about winning the race and my personal record, but didn’t realize until a while later that I was BVAL champ. Winning BVAL as a team in cross country in 2008 was exciting, so winning an individual championship as a freshman is definitely a highlight in my life.

  1. As a former teammate of yours, I’ve seen how active your parents have been in being at all of your athletic events and cheering you on. How much of an impact have they had in you being the athlete you are?

    With my parents and often relatives attending my events, they give me words of wisdom and support me 100%. They always tell me to do my best and their goal for me is to simply finish the race. It is nice to have them there on good days and most definitely on bad days. I feel lucky to have them there. It helps that they grew up with cross country and understand the commitment and sacrifice that runners make every day. I am also spoiled by my big brother, Spike, he always has a Gatorade waiting for me at the end of each race. I don’t even hold the bottle, he pours it straight into my mouth.

  1. Although you’re just a sophomore, what thoughts do you have about running in college? Is this a sport that you would like to continue being a part of in the future?

    At this point in time, I don’t know where I would like to go to college, it seems so far away. It may be fun to run in college, especially if it gives me an opportunity to go to a college that I would like to attend (when I figure that out).

    Thanks for allowing Cross Country Express to interview you. Best of luck in your future running endeavors!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Top 10 Individuuals in NCS (boys and girls) courtesy of Jason Oswalt...

1) Erik Olson Novato
2) Hugh Dowdy Petaluma
3) Reesey Byers Santa Rosa
4) Dan Milechman Tamalpais
5) Luis Luna Piner
6) Josh MacDonald Redwood Christian
7) Ben Eversole Castro Valley
8) Alex Summers Granada
9) Jeff Bickert College Park
10) Danny Thomas Arroyo
1) Julie Nacouzi Montgomery
2) Colleen Lillig California
3) Jacque Taylor Casa Grande
4) Alicia Cridebring College Park
5) Theresa Devine Marin Catholic
6) Lucy McCullough Marin Academy
7) Isabel Andrade Petaluma
8) Emily Sherer Acalanes
9) Carrie Verdon Campolindo
10) Grace Orders Campolindo

Comments? Missing anybody? Who should move up? down? Holland Reynolds of UHS ran 18:12 at the Crystal Springs Invitational yesterday to finish 2nd behind Marissa Ferrante of Aptos. 18:12 on the CS Course converts to approximately 18:34 at Woodward Park. Not sure if that puts her in the top 10 but wanted to get her name out there as well.

Anybody else?

Catching up on weekend races...

From Keith Conning's website THE CONNING TOWER (

Top 10 Northern California Teams and Individuals at Clovis Invitational

Combined Boys Teams

Place School Points Team_Time Avg_Runner
5 Davis Senior SJ 273 1:19:27 15:53
6 Mountain View CC 347 1:19:53 15:58
10 Oak Ridge SJ 468 1:21:04 16:12
20 Petaluma High School NC 768 1:22:25 16:29
27 De La Salle NC 919 1:23:18 16:39
29 Jesuit SJ 957 1:23:08 16:37
37 Miramonte NC 1221 1:24:15 16:51
40 Fairfield SJ 1285 1:24:04
55 San Ramon Valley NC 1653 1:25:40 17:08
61 Woodcreek SJ 1782 1:26:00 17:12

Combined Boys Individuals
Overall Race Place Last First Grade School Time 2008
3 6 3 Olson Erik 12 Novato NC 15:59
6 6 6 Rowe Garrett 12 Mountain View CC 15:08 15:18 (-0:10)
8 6 8 MacQuitty Philip 12 Palo Alto CC 15:13 15:22 (-0:09)
10 6 10 Coates Corey 12 Davis Senior SJ 15:17 15:50 (-0:33)
15 6 14 Halsted Trevor 11 Davis Senior SJ 15:27 16:10 (-0:43)
17 4 1 Rosas Roberto 12 Grace Davis SJ 15:28
30 6 26 Schuh Parker 11 Mountain View CC 15:43 15:43 (-0:00)
32 6 27 Lester Jared 12 Fairfield SJ 15:47 15:51 (-0:04)
33 10 1 Dowdy Hugh 12 Petaluma High School NC 15:48 16:04 (-0:16)
34 6 28 Kelly-Strong Adam 12 Jesuit SJ 15:48 16:27 (-0:39)

Combined Girls Teams
Place School Points Team_Time Avg_Runner
3 Oak Ridge SJ 286 1:35:42 19:08
10 Woodcreek SJ 430 1:36:44 19:20
15 Davis Senior SJ 698 1:38:52 19:46
16 Acalanes High School NC 704 1:39:10 19:50
18 Granite Bay High School SJ 764 1:38:23 19:40
35 California NC 1052 1:40:09 20:01
40 College Prep NC 1227 1:42:19 20:27
43 Miramonte NC 1284 1:42:55 20:35
45 Petaluma High School NC 1334 1:42:33 20:30
46 San Ramon Valley NC 1368 1:43:19 20:39

Combined Girls Individuals
Overall Race Place Last First Grade School Time 2008
1 5 1 Nacouzi Julie 11 Montgomery 17:42
6 5 3 Lillig Colleen 12 California 18:04
11 5 6 Holt Brooke 11 Granite Bay High School 18:18
12 5 7 Scott Hayley 12 Oak Ridge 18:19 18:27 (-0:08)
17 5 12 Crosta Courtney 12 Woodcreek 18:26
22 5 17 Bowlus Christine 12 Davis Senior 18:35 18:58 (-0:23)
23 5 18 Zavesky Christine 11 Granite Bay High School 18:36
25 5 19 Lewis Breanna 12 Sheldon 18:37 19:33 (-0:56)
35 9 2 Andrade Isabel 12 Petaluma High School 18:53 18:42 (+0:11)
40 5 27 Sturges Allison 10 Mountain View 18:58 18:43 (+0:15)

Prep report: Novato's Olson third in cross country race
(Marin IJ)


Locals shine at Clovis Invite (East Bay Prep Corner)

Bulldog runners shine in Clovis (Vacaville Reporter)

Castro Valley Invitational Results
courtesy of

If you would like the Middle School Castro Valley Invitational results (boys and girls), please email me at The results are courtesy of Jim Sorensen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Photo(s) of the Week

Just wanted to share two extraordinary photos from our cross country meet at Crystal Springs. This is the start of the Boys sophomore race...the sound that these runners made as they ran past was surreal!

Photos courtesy of Eric Graham.

Ruben DiRado
Assistant Coach
Maria Carrillo HS Cross Country

Friday, October 09, 2009

SJS Boys Division 1-3 Mid-Season Rankings by Jason Jimenez

Division 1

1 Davis

2 Oak Ridge

3 Grace Davis

4 Lincoln - Stockton

5 Franklin

Early season match-ups between Oak Ridge and Davis never really materialized as both squads suffered through

some illness and injuries. Both teams will probably hold back slightly at Frogtown in early November so hold your

breath for the Section championships - both teams will be forced to lock horns so to speak and any sub-par performance

could result in a lost banner.

Division 2

1 Del Campo

2 Jesuit

3 Woodcreek

4 Rocklin

5 Vacaville

All the King's Men at Del Campo have been solid throughout the season. Traveling to Woodbridge and Kenny-Staub

and faring well. Jesuit has yet to really show their cards. An easy win in the DRL showed their depth is a serious weapon.

Woodcreek and Rocklin are waging a battle of their own at the SFL. Woodcreek might have the edge with a superior front


Division 3

1 El Camino

2 Placer

3 Woodland

4 Sonora

5 Sierra

My first question is where is Del Oro? El Camino did better than expected at Stanford without their usual #5 man. They

have inched their way closer to Del Campo at CAL and even though they stumbled a bit at Yolo County they still beat

likely 2nd best team Placer.

Hillsdale athletes learn from one of America's top marathon runners

From today's San Mateo County Times:
Hillsdale athletes learn from one of America's top marathon runners

Gilmore's bio on USATF website:

From Runner's World:
A Brief Chat With Peter Gilmore

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Catching up with Chico State coach, Gary Towne...

Update on Gary Towne. He's being inducted into the Chico State Hall of Fame on Saturday as an honorary inductee.
About Towne: Coach to enter Wildcat Hall of Fame

Today we chat with one of the most successful coaches (regardless of divisions) in California, Chico St. coach, Gary Towne (pictured in the picture to the right). You can now count on Chico St. to be a national contender every season at the Division II level. You can see their spectacular numbers below as well as Gary's analysis of his top pupil, former San Ramon Valley runner, Scott Bauhs (pictured to the left). Gary also offers his advice on what it takes to be successful at the high school level for runners and coaches.

1) How did you get your start in the sports of cross country and track and field?
I started running when I was in the 8th grade as a sprinter. It was really nothing serious, just a few track meets in the area where I grew up.

2) Where did you go to high school and college and what were some of your highlights during your time competing for those school teams?
I went to high school in Corning, CA in the Northern end of the Sacramento Valley (only 40 min from Chico). I went to Corning High and enjoyed being part of a school that had a lot of spirit and pride in the athletic programs. I was very much an average high school runner as I only ran 5:03 and 10:51 PR’s for the 1600 and 3200m distances. I decided to go to a local community college (Shasta) in Redding, CA, and had no intention of running at Shasta. I secretly hoped to run there but would have never gone out for the team because I thought I wasn’t fast enough to make their team. Thankfully their coach (Gary Lewis-who’s since moved up to President of Shasta College) spotted me finishing a run on campus and talked me into coming out for their team. That moment changed the direction of my life. I was still an average runner through college, only getting my PR's down to 16:25 and 34:25 for the 5k and 10k events (after transferring to Chico State). Thankfully I’ve kept running beyond college and have lowered those PR’s to 15:20 and 31:40. The process of taking myself from a 16:25 guy out of college and eventually running the same pace for a 1/2 marathon after college, was invaluable to me as a coach because it’s helped me understand what it takes to develop and how important it is to look at the big picture (long term development).

3) When did you first get interested in coaching?
My Community College coaches really turned me onto the possibility of coaching. I’m not sure exactly how, but I really grew to love running while I was at Shasta, and from that point on I liked the idea of helping others become faster, and even the prospect of recruiting. I helped our coaches at Shasta as I was able with recruiting even while I was an athlete there.

4) What schools did you coach at before you finally settled in Chico St.?
Chico is the only school that I have coached at. When I graduated from Chico I took a semester off and tried to figure out what direction I wanted to take with teaching and coaching. Basically, I had the option of going into the credentials program and pursuing a HS teaching and coaching position, or I could stick with the school for another few years and go for a masters degree so that I could coach at the college level. I decided on the latter and thankfully our coach at Chico State Jean Murphy Atkins allowed me to help her as a volunteer assistant. I worked under Jean for about three years while I finished my master's work and thesis. Just as I was finishing this our men’s team qualified for the NCAA championships in cross country for the first time in 21 years. We finished 10th in the nation with a nonscholarship squad. The next year our head coach decided not to return and waited to tell our administration so that they would have to hire me as her replacement. At least for a year. She told them that she would return in a year most likely, but she told me secretly that she had no intention of returning. Basically, this bought me two years as a head coach at CSUC. I took FULL advantage of these two years and in our second year, our women qualified for the NCAA championships for the first time in the history of the program. This helped me secure the job and I’ve been here ever since.

5) What coaches have been mentors to you when you first started coaching? Now?
I learned a lot from Jean Murphy Atkins (the coach I assisted) but most of this learning had to do with learning how to treat athletes fairly and also the nuts and bolts of coaching as a profession. Jean included me and allowed me to have a hand in everything except writing workouts while I was her assistant. I can’t say that I’ve had a coach who I studied under who taught me the secrets of training or anything like that. I would say that there are plenty of coaches who I’ve studied through reading their books and articles online that have definitely influenced my knowledge of training and how to implement it. Some of those coaches are: Jack Daniels, Joe Vigil, Joe Rubio, and a few others.

6) What was the state of the program when you first became head coach?
This is a great question. I think that when most people talk about the success of our program, they probably feel like we’ve been doing great things for years and years, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While I was on the team in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s we were really pretty bad. I mean I was a 16:25 guy and was our #5 runner at our conference meet my senior year of cross country. Our success has been a real building process and a LOT of different people have put their two cents into the mix to make us who we are today. Early on it was the 10 min two milers and the 12:00-12:30 gals who carried our team to initial success, and eventually, we qualified a few teams to NCAA championships and got the ball rolling. In 1999 (my fourth year coaching) we took a nonscholarship team (we were a nonscholarship program until the Spring of 2000) to the NCAA championships and finished 6th overall. That stands as a day that helped change the course of distance running at Chico State. Because of that performance, we landed several solid HS recruits and by 2000, both squads qualified for the NCAA meet together for the first time and each finished in the Top-10. Since 2000 the two squads have finished each year at the NCAA Championships together and most have resulted in Top-10 finishes. We’re extremely proud of the tradition that we’ve built in these years but it wasn’t all that long ago that we didn’t even talk about the NCAA meet because it just wasn’t a relevant topic.

7) What changes did you make that you feel have been critical for the success of the program?
I think just establishing a tradition of success and emphasizing the type of work and dedication that is required to achieve that level of performance as a team. Early on success was placing among the top 3 in the conference, and then trying to qualify for the NCAA championships. Then we qualified for the NCAA meet and we finished 18th out of 18 teams. We went back to the drawing board and qualified again the next year and beat a team.. That was progress. At first, there were seasons and years where I wondered if we would ever become a good team on the NCAA level, and then things just started clicking and as the athletes felt more confident in themselves and about what we were doing, we continued to move forward. The funny thing is that everyone who has been a part of our program has had a part in this process. Each person had a role in the success that we’re having today, because if it weren’t for their efforts, and commitment and achievements we wouldn’t have landed the recruits that we have and we wouldn’t have this established tradition that we have now. I feel very much like we spent a lot of time and energy getting a giant ball rolling and now it’s moving at a good pace, and it’s my job to make sure that it continues to stay on course.

8) What are some of the advantages of the training area around your school?
Wow, Chico is an amazing place to live as a distance runner. I know this because I still run 80 mile weeks and I absolutely love the running environment here. Basically, our campus sits about 5 miles from the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The stretch of valley that separates our campus from the foothills is mostly protected park land (Lower Bidwell Park) and is lined with dirt trails. There is a giant Oak Tree forest with vines, bushes and all kinds of greenery in the Lower Park area which provides a great setting for running (parts of the original Robin Hood Movie were filmed in Lower Park). We use the flat trails near campus for tempo runs, intervals, fartlek training, and of course aerobic runs. This park continues up into the foothills above Chico where the trails turn more mountainous and rugged. This area is called Upper Bidwell Park. We do a fair number of our Long runs in upper park as well as some of our hill training sessions. When you take into consideration that 90 percent of our student-athletes live within 1/2 mile of campus and the park’s trails start within a mile of campus, we are very fortunate. I love running in cool places and parks when we’re on the road, but I feel for folks that have to drive for 15-20 minutes to find good dirt trails.

9) Describe your experience with coaching Scott Bauhs? When did you first realize that he had the talent and determination to become an elite runner?
Coaching Scott Bauhs... We were SO fortunate that Scott Bauhs chose to come to Chico State, and hopefully, Scott would say the same thing about his decision to come here. I couldn’t imagine a college career going a whole lot better than his did here. Working with Scott was definitely a learning experience. From day 1 Scott was a very confident and determined young man. He was just stuck in a body that had the physical development of a 14 year old. While recruiting Scott I loved his fire and willingness to go after athletes that had better marks or were bigger names than he. He was a fearless runner that just wasn’t as developed as some of those around him. When you’re a DII coach trying to land top recruits you have to expect that you’re not going to land a lot of the “big names” because they think that they’re better than DII... So Scott was a perfect recruit. He had the tools if you were willing to really watch and follow his progress. Fortunately for us his former HS teammate Katie Lee was in full swing in becoming our best distance runner to date (16:25 school-record 5k) so Scott’s HS coach Tim Hunter felt as though we might be a good option for Scott and thankfully Scott felt the same. Since Scott’s first day with us he talked about how he wanted to become one of the fastest kids from his HS graduating class nationally. After a so so freshman year, Scott really started to make some good progress his sophomore year. As a RS frosh he ran 29:39 for 10k, then a year later he dropped that to 28:53, and the next year he ran 27:48, with a final 5k split of 13:49! I think the turning point along the way was after Scott’s second year of school he spent the summer living and training in the Tahoe area with a number of other athletes from our team. He came down at midsummer and off no workouts ran 29:02 at Wharf to Wharf and enjoyed an amazing cross country season after. That track season he ran 13:40 for 5k and 28:53 and we knew he was on his way to realizing some of the dreams that he had for himself.

Since this website is read mostly by HS athletes I think it’s important to point out some of the things that really stood out about Scott’s training and racing. The biggest thing was that he wasn’t a “workout warrior” guy. Scott worked out hard, but we learned to pick and choose when we’d go hard and when he’d just listen to his body and get a good workout in. Mileage days averaged in the mid 6 min pace per mile more often than not and even after Scott had run 27:48 he was still doing most of his runs at the same paces as his teammates. I think oftentimes people feel that if they run hard on a daily basis that they’ll become faster. It’s really the balance of faster and easier paced runs that pays the biggest dividends and if you’re willing to believe in this, especially as you’re preparing to race, and during races, you’ll probably do pretty well!

10) What achievements (Cross Country or Track and Field) are you most proud of during your time at Chico?
I read somewhere that we’ve had 18 teams finish among the Top-10 nationally during our recent streak of success. I’m very proud of the tradition that we’ve established more than anything. As I mentioned earlier, I can think of so many great kids who did so many great things that added to this and other accomplishments. I’m just proud of the fact that we’re a very competitive team and that we feel as though we stack up quite well against teams of all levels. I should also point out that we are not a highly funded scholarship team. Because we are relatively new to the scholarship arena, we have only 1.5 scholarships per gender to work with, so people like Scott Bauhs were receiving only a percentage of their tuition, which says even more about the kids in our program. They are here because they want to be a part of something special and certainly not because we have more money to offer than another program because that’s rarely the case.

11) What is your advice for high school runners who have asperations of running in college? What can they do during high school that will ease their transition to college?
This is a great question. Since I was not a really fast high school runner I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I had to compete in college. I remember the first day wearing my Shasta College jersey and how much that meant to me. I would advise young men and women to follow their dreams for college running, but try to keep in mind the reality that every program has it’s limitations as to how many kids they can take on each year and who they can take aboard. They need to send emails to coaches at different schools and ask questions like whether they might be a good fit for that program. I receive approximately 2-300 emails a year from kids who are interested. Many have the ability to run at this level, but we’re only able to take aboard 7-8 per gender each year. Selecting who we are able to keep out of such a large pool is quite difficult and challenging. I have kids who come here every year wanting to walk onto the program who I’m not able to take aboard, and it kills me to see them stuck here unable to run. In many cases I’ve advised these kids to look at other programs that they could probably run for including Community Colleges, but unfortunately, many of these kids won’t consider the JC option. If running is a very important part of your decision with college, then the student-athlete really needs to look hard at the different options out there to hopefully find the right fit both academically and athletically. This might be a four-year university or it could be a Community College like it was in my case.

12) What would your advice be for a high school coach who is trying to get his or her program to the next level where they are competing at the section level and beyond?
Create a fun atmosphere where hard work and year-round commitment is expected and the norm. If the kids understand that cross country and track aren’t seasonal sports when it comes to training, then you’ve made some great progress. If you can get a large group (the core of your team) to buy into this concept, you have the beginnings of a Davis, Dana Hills, Jesuit, Royal, Sugus, or other teams that have success on a yearly basis. At the high school level you’re going to have down years as talent comes and goes, but if you can keep the numbers up and get the kids to buy into year-round training, some of those little skateboarders (like Scott Bauhs) are going to develop into Diamonds down the road.

Thank you for your time, Gary. Best of luck to all your athletes the remainder of this season.

Thank You Albert for all that you have done and continue to do for the sport!
PS: I just found out that our women are now ranked #1 in the NCAA for DII! It’s just a ranking but a first for our program!

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