Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catching up with former San Ramon Valley HS runner, Roy Kissin...

FULL COMPLETE INTERVIEW with former San Ramon Valley HS and Stanford University runner, Roy Kissin.  He graduated from SRV in 1975 with PRs of 4:15.81 and 8:53.09.  His 1600m. time has recently been passed by two SRV runners (Kevin Griffith and Parker Deuel) but his 3200m. time remains the school record by a significant margin).  He was elected to the San Ramon Valley HS Hall of Fame in 2004.  He attended Stanford University on an athletic scholarship and was all-American in the 10000m. in 1978.  He was also a two time Olympic Trials qualifier in distance events.   He is still competing to this day as you can see his times at this link.  At the recently completed Dipsea race, Roy won another black shirt that goes to the top 35 overall finishers by finishing in 16th place.  An interesting note, Roy was co-writer on the movie On the Edge which is a fictionalized account of the Dipsea race.  Definitely one of the better running movies if you can find it.

1) How did you get your start in running? What other sports did you play? 
Up until middle school, I was a strictly a B team athlete. In PE, we had to run a lap around a big field, maybe 600m or so. I would jog along with everyone else, but one day when I was in the 8th grade, for no particular reason, I just decided to run that lap as hard as I could. When I finished, I looked back and to my shock saw that I'd completely dusted everyone. 

2) Who were your coaches before high school? Highlights?
The PE teacher, Mr. Conrad, an ex-football player from Cal Poly who was one of the very early converts to road racing, called me over and said, "Kissin, from now on, you're running with me at lunch."

That was it. Two or three times a week, Mr. Conrad would take a couple of us running. Well, more like make us. He was an old school guy, kind of intimidating to a kid, and if he said you were doing something you did it. At first, I didn't really enjoy the running at lunch part, but I loved the racing. We ran a few road races that spring and at each one I won my age group, culminating in a Marathon where on practically no training I ran 3:28, under what I if I recall correctly was Boston's first ever qualifying time of 3:30 (nutty, I know -- I could barely walk for a week). On the track, I won the 880 (yards back then) in the county track meet in 2:11.0, which showed a lot of promise.

I will always be grateful to Warren Conrad for plucking me out of a PE class and setting me on the path to becoming a runner. Without his interest and timely intervention at a moment of my own inspiration, I don't know if any of what was to unfold for me would have happened.

3) What about your high school experience? Highlights?
I just remember what a great group of guys we had on our team, and what a blast we had. When I was a freshman, Mike Dayton was a junior who had set the school record of 9:35 the previous spring. Mike was tremendously dedicated, doing doubles, piling on the mileage and really setting a standard for the rest of us. That fall, he won the North Coast Section cross country title, back when it was just one big race, no divisions, and as a team we finished third. I was the top freshman finisher in 25th. In track, Dayton lowered his school record to 9:11.0, while I ran 4:37 and 9:47. So while we were both running well, I wasn't anywhere near the runner he was.

Somehow that all changed over the summer. In cross country my sophomore year ('72 - '73), we went 1 - 2 in every dual meet and invitational, and I was always the runner up, or at least I was up until our league meet, when I finally got the better of him. I went on to finish second behind Rich Kimball at NCS, while Mike finished well back and we never quite the same runner after that. I'd have to say that was my first big highlight, and believe me, no one was more surprised at my placing second than I was, but it did wonders for my confidence heading into track season. I set myself a goal of making it to the State Meet, and I did, running 9:17.2 for 4th at NCS. That race stands out in my mind as the one of the hundreds that I ran the hardest, I mean I almost collapse in the final strides and spent 20 minutes on my knees on the infield afterward. I went on to finish 14th at State on a very hot and windy day at Woodland.

I progressed steadily my junior year, finishing second again to Kimball at NCS Cross Country, but the big thrill was unexpectedly winning the team title over favored Redwood, where, ironically, my son wound up running. In track, I lowered my 2 mile PR to 9:08.0 in finishing 9th at State.

Because I was surrounded by great runners on my own team (Dayton) and nearby (Kimball), I really hadn't won any big races, but as a senior I finally had my chance to shine, going undefeated during cross country. Unfortunately, there was no state cross country championship then, but I did go on to finish 63rd (66th) in the 1974 AAU National Championship which was held at Crystal Springs that year.

Two weeks later, the Junior Nationals were held in Alameda. At stake was a spot on the team that would be going to the 1975 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Rabat, Morocco. I remember the race so vividly. There was a pack of 12 to 15 guys fighting the whole way. So many times, I felt my grip on the pack slipping, but each time I fought back, just barely holding on. With 400 to go I was in 7th; only four would make the team and I saw my chances slipping away despite running a great race. At 200 to go there was a Steeple barrier and the guy in 6th hit it and fell! Seeing that lit a fire under me and I hit the barrier perfectly, went flying past a couple of guys, past the great Eric Hulst into 4th, then nipping Ralph Serna at the tape for 3rd and the top high school finisher in the Nationals.

This remains one of the proudest moments of my career. I was the only high school runner to beat both Hulst and Serna in the same race that year. In Morocco, I finished 8th individually as part of the winning US team. That trip was amazing and eye opening in every respect, but probably too long of a tale to get into here!

In track, Hulst, Serna, and I reversed the order of finish at State, going 1, 2, 3, and I broke 9:00 for first time finishing in 8:56.2 (8:53.1c 3200m), a still standing record at San Ramon. I feel kind of lucky Scott Bauhs didn't take it down!

4) Who were your coaches in high school?
My coach at San Ramon was a kind, benevolent, and generous soul named Bob Vincent. I didn't fully understand until I became a parent with kids of my own participating in sports just how much time and love and caring this extraordinary man poured into his work with kids. By the time I arrived, he'd been teaching and coaching at San Ramon for more than 20 years and was already a legend, having consistently produced great teams and individuals in all the track disciplines. The distance program itself was nothing complicated. What I remember is a steady diet of 440s and 220s with lots of steady running packed around it. We also had about a zillion meets, I don't know, sometimes three a week. Certainly not optimal from the standpoint of modern training systems, but what was optimal was the team culture and tradition of competing hard and winning often. We were a high spirited bunch, given to pranks and tomfoolery, but Mr. Vincent had an uncanny ability to harness that energy and channel it toward our competitive goals. Bob Ladouceur, the De La Salle football coach with the best winning record in California history, was our top sprinter and team captain my freshman year. I haven't seen or spoken to Bob in about 30 years, but I'm sure he'd count Bob Vincent among his important early mentors.

But it takes a village as they say. Warren Conrad, my middle school coach, became an assistant at San Ramon when I started. Coach Vincent would always say, "I'm the do as I say coach, Coach Conrad is the do as I do coach." In addition, two San Ramon alums who ran collegiately, Ralph Patten and Terry Chappell, acted as "graduate assistants" with practical knowledge they were eager to share. I'm grateful to all of them for their friendship and guidance.

There's one other person who had a big impact on my high school career. In the off season, I ran road races for the West Valley Track Club, which is those days was a regional, even a national club powerhouse based on the Peninsula. With Coach Vincent's consent, a West Valley teammate named George Stewart started advising me the summer before my senior year. George grew up in Marin and went on to run close to a 4 minute mile at Oklahoma State, where Tom Von Ruden, a 1968 Olympian and a top miler of that era, was the coach. With George's input, my training took on a new level of sophistication, with modified Lydiard-type periodization. He also stressed becoming a hard-nosed racer, always being in it to win it and believing in yourself. I credit George with helping me get to another level my senior year.

5) What do you remember about your training in high school? Miles per week? Distance of long runs? Workouts?
I don't have to remember, I can tell you exact details because I've always kept a log! During track senior year, I averaged 64 miles a week, with a high of 85 miles and a low of 30. The long run was 14 - 19 miles, 2 - 3 hours on the fire roads of Las Trampas Ridge and Mt. Diablo.

That season I raced from January through June, training through pretty much everything except the World Cross Country Champs and the State Meet and post season championships.

Want an example?

Tues. March 11, 1975

4 miles warmup

3 x 440y @ 64.5-64.9-64.5
6 x 440y @ 67.4-67.8-67.0-67.7-67.7-67.7
3 x 440y @ 62.0-63.0-62.5

110y (30 second) rest between intervals; 440y jog between sets

2 miles cool down with 8 x 110y embedded strides


The next day, I left for Morocco and on Sunday ran in the World Cross Country.

A little later in the season, leading up to NCS/State:

Tues. May 20, 1975

2 miles brisk warmup

2 x 880y @ 2:06-2:05 (440y jog)
4 x 4400 @ 60.5-59.5-61.0-59.8 (220y jog)
1 x 1320y pace work @ 3:30 (880y jog)
6 x 220y @ 30-29-29-27-27-26 (220y jog)

Cool down 3 miles on trails

So, to sum up the high school training: No magic formula, just two good quality workouts and a long run every week, surrounded by a decent amount of easy recovery running.

6) Your son Peter ran recently at Redwood HS so you are still familiar with the HS scene. What do you feel were the advantages and disadvantages of running in your era compared to today?
First, i want to say just how fun it's been following the HS scene in general and Peter's running in particular. I don't think I missed more than one or two meets while he was at Redwood. Peter graduated in 2009 and will be a Senior this year at Haverford College in Philadelphia. Haverford won the NCAA DIII Cross Country title in 2010, finished second last year, and will be a strong contender again this year. I try to get to as many of his races as I can, even though it's all the way across the country, because there's nothing quite as exciting as watching your kid run. I get way more nervous watching him than I ever did before my own races!

Anyway, as I see it, the HS scene has changed a lot. Some of the changes are real advantages. In my day, we were lucky if we got to run on an artificial surface two or three times a year, and two of those three would be "rubberized asphalt" which was like running on the roads. Even Cal had a cinder track back then. Nowadays, almost every high school has a modern composite surface that's very conducive to training and racing and better than any track I ever ran on until about my junior year in college. We would have sold our parents to the Taliban to have one of those tracks at San Ramon!

Footwear, same thing. The stuff we wore was primitive compared to what's available today, and I think the technical advances make it possible to train harder and run faster with less chance of injury. 3 oz. spikes? AMAZING.

Of course, it goes without saying that the advances in our understanding of human performance, physiology, nutrition, etc. and the easy dissemination of that knowledge over the internet have revolutionized training at all levels.

As far as disadvantages, the biggest change I see is simply the decline in popularity of track as a spectator sport. It's great that more kids participate, but the context in which that participation takes place has narrowed drastically. The Bay Area used to support two major indoor meets with sellout crowds filling the Cow Palace and the Oakland Coliseum. The Big Meet between Stanford and Cal could draw 20,000 spectators. The stars of the sport like Pre and Shorter were household names and meets were widely covered in newspapers and on TV. It's just unfortunate that there are so many other forms of entertainment competing with track for attention, because it seems like there's less to dream of or aspire to for an up-and-comer. Even though most kids are never going to reach that level, having that dream and feeling part of that scene makes your participation so much more fun and interesting.

7) You ran at Stanford University. Who were your coaches there? Highlights in XC and TF?
Marshall Clark was my coach through my junior year. He left to become head coach and an AD at the University of Montana and was replaced by Dean Clark (no relation) who'd run the Steeple at Washington State. Highlights were hard to come by my first two years at Stanford. I had some decent races freshman year but ran badly at the Conference meet in cross country and got sick and didn't run the conference meet in track. That summer, I suffered a knee injury that sidelined me for 6 months, causing me to miss cross country season altogether and have a totally sub-par track season. So up to that point it was one of those stories that's all too typical: Great high school career followed by a lot of struggle in college.

The big issue from my point of view was rest and recovery; I simply wasn't getting enough of it. For example, following a 10k cross country race on Saturday, there would be a long Sunday run, a fartlek on Monday, repeat 300s on grass on Tuesday, a 10 miler someone would end up hammering on Wednesday, 1000m repeats on grass on Thursday... it just never let up! Reading back through my log, there are all these notations about how exhausted I was feeling before, during, and after workouts. Maybe this was working for some of the guys, but it wasn't for me, and the fact that I wound up injured and sick all the time was hardly a surprise.

I was pretty discouraged but resolved to try and right the ship. Coach Clark and I had a long heart to heart and an exchange of letters about my training, what was working and what wasn't. He agreed to make some adjustments that built more recovery into schedule. I also felt that by building a better base over the summer I would be better equipped to handle a bigger work load. I spent that summer living at South Lake Tahoe with George Stewart, my high school advisor, and a couple of high school rivals who doubled as friends. For the first time, I ran 100 miles a week and arrived back at Stanford in the fall with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. I had a decent cross season though nothing outstanding, but the hard work finally paid dividends in track when I ran close to 14:00 and 29:00 for 5k and 10k, qualified for the NCAAs for the first time and made All American at 10K. Though my times didn't improve much my senior year, I raced better and finished 3rd in the conference meet (won by Alberto Salazar) and 9th at the NCAA in the 10k. This was the era dominated by older foreign athletes, so I was pretty stoked about being 4th American.

I'm sorry to say that my collegiate experience was marked by more lows than highs and the feeling that I fell well short of what I hoped for and expected of myself. I almost drifted away from the sport after college, but once I adjusted to life outside the campus cocoon and connected up with a good training group, I finally got back on track. I was living in San Francisco and trained at various times with John Moreno (2:12 marathon), Bill Donakowski (2:10 marathon and a 10k rival from college), Rod Berry (Stanford teammate) and others -- great runners, all of them. By 1984, I'd lowered my PRs to 13:42 and 28:19, qualifying for the Olympic Trials in both the 5k and 10k. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle pretty badly the week before the Trials and wasn't 100%, but did make over to compete on the Pre-Olympic circuit in Europe. Looking back, I'm really glad I kept at it long enough to allow some good things to happen and feel like I got at least decently close to my potential.

8) You are still competing to this day. How much running are you doing per week and what has changed training wise in your 40s and 50s?
When I was younger, I never imagined for a minute that I'd still be training and competing at this age. Between ages 30 and 40 I hardly ran a step, which is probably just what I needed anyway after 15 years of hard training and racing. Plus there were other things to do in life, like establish a career, get married and raise a family. We wound up moving to Marin when our kids were little and that's what led to my starting up again. There are just so many great places to run, and I'd always done my Sunday runs on Mt. Tam, so little by little I got back into it as a Masters runner with different goals and a different mind set. I've trained and socialized with folks from the Tamalpa Runners for decades so there's been a strong community aspect to it also.

So I ran pretty consistently through my 40s but didn't really focus on competition until I turned 50. At that point, my son Peter was starting to run, so it was something we could do together at a time when parents and kids often find those points of common interest hard to come by. I also decided that I'd try to break 5:00 for the mile and get a Black Shirt in the Dipsea, two goals I'd failed to achieve in the second act of my running career. Happily, I did both and have maintain that level of competitive fitness ever since.

It turns out that I really, really like the feeling of being fit. Putting on even a few extra pounds just feels lousy to me -- I know, having weighed as much as 25 lbs more than I do currently. And having even modest race goals helps me with the discipline of eating well, getting regular sleep, and managing stress.

The other thing that's kind of surprising is that running a 5 minute mile now feels no different than running a 4 minute mile did then, and it's just as much of a kick. I ran my old fart PR of 4:50 when I was 51, a mark that's as satisfying as any I achieved in my prime.

As far as training now, I tend to go in cycles that vary with my energy, interests, and other commitments. I might run 30 - 40 miles a week and take lots of days off for months at a time, then get interested in something, say, breaking 5 minutes for the mile or 17 minutes for 5k, and crank it up to 60 miles a week or so with good quality workouts a couple of times a week. I still love training on the track and racing in spikes. It feels like home.

9) You have competed in many Dipsea races. How led you to your first Dipsea? What has been your best finish? How many black shirts have you won?
I ran my first Dipsea in 1982 as we were preparing to make On the Edge. As a track guy mainly, I was a nervous about the potential for injury but since the movie was based on the race I really couldn't avoid it. So I ran in 1982, finishing 11th, and again in 1983, finishing 5th. I didn't run the race again until 1996 or 1997, but never finished higher than 59th (and sometimes much, much lower) until I turned 50, got my act together and came in 13th. That set the current record of 24 years between Black Shirts. Last year, I had a really good run and finished 7th, so I figured that if I just trained harder I could make top 5. Naturally, all that hard work really paid off with this year's 16th place finish. Jeez. Just goes to prove once again that Easy Does It.

But I can't complain. As one of my friends told me when I said I'd been hoping for better, "I'd sell my mother to the Taliban to finish 16th." Any finish that gets you a Black Shirt is by definition a good finish. I have 7 of them and hope to get a few more before I'm through.

The Dipsea is very important to my continuing motivation to train. It's such a challenging race, there's no faking your way through it. Plus here in Marin a Black Shirt gives you cred and bragging rights among your running buddies -- as long as you renew it every year. At this point, I've run so many races over the course of my life that it takes something really special like the Dipsea to get me out of my chair.

10) You have a lifetime experience in running. What would you say are the keys to being a successful runner and racer?
I like the way you make a distinction between success as a runner and success as a racer. To me, being a successful runner means, first and foremost, developing the habit and cultivating a love of the sport for its own sake and on its own merits, for whatever it gives you and you want out of it. Life can get chaotic at times, and when it does, your running can help keep you focused, organized and grounded. It's simple. You get out there every day, or you don't. Your choice. I've been a runner. And at points I've not been a runner. Being a runner is better. Life is better.

Success as a racer means ratcheting that self-discipline up a notch or three. I was always meticulous in my dreaming, goal setting and planning. The groundwork for the championship race I ran in June was laid the previous July and in the months in between. In a race itself, there's a kind of situational awareness you need to develop -- knowing where you need to be when, what moves you need to cover, etc. Just conceiving of yourself as a tough, hard-nosed competitor who wants to win, however you define winning. It may be winning the race outright, or it may be beating that rival you're close to but have never beaten.

11) As you look ahead, what are some of the races or barriers coming up for you?
Other than the 2013 Dipsea, nothing. I'm just planning to cruise and run easily for a few months and then start to crank it up again. Wait, I am planning to going back to run in the JV/Open race at the Paul Short Cross Country Invitational at Lehigh University on September 28th. Haverford will be in the University division so it's a chance to see Peter and his team compete. I also ran in the 1979 NCAA XC Championship on that course, so it's a trip down memory lane. It's a big meet in the mid-Atlantic region on a spectacularly beautiful course, so I'm really looking forward to that. I will probably be the oldest guy in the race by 25 - 30 years.

Barriers? While up to now I'm not any slower than I was 5 years ago or even 15 years ago, I'm starting to wonder when aging is going to noticeably affect my performances. At that point, I will either retire or shift my goal from breaking 5 minutes in the mile to breaking 6 minutes. Probably the latter.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Haven't I said enough? ; )

Comparing California XC courses

Here are a few resources for you to compare times from different XC courses.  

The first is a tool that you can find on (any issues?  Email Hank Lawson at

Second is the course converter courtesy of

Finally, if you really enjoy math, check out Sstoz Tes's blog with stats that would please the biggest stat geeks (term of endearment!) out there: (comparison of all the section cross country courses compared to Woodward Park).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

San Ramon Valley HS XC Coaching Clinic

We are doing the clinic this summer at SRV!!!

Saturday August 11 at 9am in the Library at SRVHS in DanvilleCA
Scott Abbott of Sacramento State
Chuck Woolridge of Campolindo
And one or two more presenters still to be determined!

Nike will be giving FREE shoes to all that sign up by noon August 1 so don’t delay!!

The clinic itself has a cost of $25, make checks payable to SRV Cross Country

What you need to do:
1. email Tim Hunter at your shoe size and if you prefer a neutral or stability shoe. This is your RSVP.

2. Come to the clinic and enjoy the morning.

3. Pass this message along to all your coaching friends so they can come and enjoy the clinic.

**must be at clinic to get your shoes!

Tim Hunter

London Olympics Athletics Stats Book

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to Win: The Handoff

More New York Times how to before the start of the Olympics this Friday:
How will the United States do this Olympics?  We have had some epic failures in this event and Jamaica might be the best team anyway even if we can get the baton all the way around the track.

The picture to the left is Trell Kimmons practicing his hand off to Wallace Spearman with both of them wearing GoPro cameras to record their form.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bay Area Running Camp

Just a reminder that the Bay Area Running Camp will take place at Woodside Priory School this coming Monday from July 23rd-27th from 8:00am to 12pm for 12-18 year olds.  For the over 18 year old crowd, we have an adult camp on the same dates from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  Dinner is included with the adult camp.  The shoes below are included with all sign ups.

You can find all the information and registration link at

If 4 or more of your teammates sign up for the camp as well, you will each receive $50 off the registration fee of $300.

If you have any questions, you can contact me at or Dena Evans at


From Outside magazine:

What all the athletes will be chasing at the London Olympics:

How to Win: The Hurdles

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

San Diego Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  Christian Freeman Carlsbad Division I
2)  Steven Fahy La Costa Canyan Division II
3)  Steven Lepe Monte Vista Division III
4)  Forrest Riley Ramona Division II
5)  Eric Sindel Mt. Carmel Division II
6)  Patrick Bourke Cathedral Catholic Division III
7)  Tal Braude Torrey Pines Division I
8)  Scott Snow Carlsbad Division I 
9)  George Martinez Sweetwater Division I
10)  Andrew Tellames Orange Glen Division II

1)  Kelly Lawson La Costa Canyon Division II
2)  Emma Abrahamson La Costa Canyon Division II
3)  Carina Gillespie Otay Ranch Division I
4)  Brianna Miller Carlsbad Division I
5)  Emily Lopez Monte Vista Division II
6)  Anne Charles Canyon Crest Academy Division III
7)  Bryn Rohner Rancho Buena Division I
8)  Rebekah Bosler La Costa Canyon Division II
9)  Rebeckah St. Laurent Rancho Bueno Vista Division I
10)  Lauren Voyles/Danielle Voyles Rancho Bernardo Division II

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NHSCA Cross Country Top 50 National Individual Rankings!__super50-individuals

Check out the California runners that are listed in the top 50.  Without looking, how many can you name?  Who is the top ranked CA girl (this one is easy)?  Who is the top ranked CA boy?  Anybody missing?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Edrick Floreal Named Head Track and Field Coach at Kentucky

Loss for Palo Alto HS as well as their star sprinter will be attending a new high school next year:

Southern Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  Porter Reddish Vista Murrieta Division I
2)  Juan Gonzalez El Toro Division I
3)  Jose Penaloza Godinez Division II
4)  Omar Caro Norte Vista Division II
5)  Myles Smith St. John Bosco Division III
6)  Daniel De La Torre La Salle Division IV
7)  Mitchell Pratt Arcadia Division I
8)  Nolan Del Valle Golden Valley Division II
9)  Austin Esposito Rancho Cucamonga Division I
10)  Bryan Fernandez Dos Pueblos Division II

1)  Sarah Baxter Simi Valley Division II
2)  Paige Tennison Newport Harbor Division II
3)  Melissa Fairchild Serrano Division II
4)  Adeline Zerrenner Dos Pueblos Division II
5)  Sydney Segal Beverly Hills Division III
6)  Megan Huebner La Quinta Division I
7)  Hannah Kirkegaard Ventura Division I
8)  Kayla Ferron Redondo Union Division II
9)  Veronica Yamane Arcadia Division I
10)  Alicia Williams Corona Division I

Feel free to comment on the above rankings.  This was definitely the toughest of the sections to rank.  Who else should be considered and what are their qualifications?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Central Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  Cody Brazeal Buchanan Division I
2)  Blake Haney Stockdale Division I
3)  Jose Herrera Madera South Division II
4)  Angel Gil Shafter Division III
5)  Connor Fisher Stockdale Division I
6)  Corey Matteson Clovis Division I
7)  Connor Nolen Clovis North Division II
8)  Alek Simpson Yosemite Division III
9)  Ismael Guzman Madera South Division II
10)  Danny Garcia McFarland Division III

1)  Hagen Reedy Buchanan Division I
2)  Ali Taliha Bullard Division I
3)  Leigh Moffett Clovis North Division II
4)  Sydney Roman East Bakersfield Division II
5)  Maddy Nikkel Buchanan Division I
6)  Marisa Gonzalez Bullard Division I
7)  Sami Ikuma Clovis West Division I
8)  Brittany Laygo Clovis East Division I
9)  Taylor Samson Clovis West Division I
10)  Cristal Rivera Madera South Division II

CCS Comparisons of Times-2012 by Walt Van Zant

I am always amazed at the data Walt puts together.  You can check them out at this link:

All you can eat when it comes to CCS.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  Jack Scranton Davis Division I
2)  Trent Brendel Granite Bay Division II
3)  Sean Jagerson Del Campo Division II
4)  Tyler Sickler Will C. Wood Division III
5)  Steven Grolle Sonora Division IV
6)  Trevor Stephens Del Oro Division III
7)  Jon Horvath Woodcreek Division II
8)  Ryan Hodgens Whitney Division III
9)  Swarnjit Boyal Division II
10)  Neilson Powless Victory Christian Division V

1)  Karlie Garcia Oakmont Division III
2)  Madeleine Ankhelyi Vista Del Lago Division III
3)  Clare Carroll Vista Del Lago Division III
4)  Faith Makau Enochs Division I
5)  Miranda Myers St. Francis (Sacramento) Division I
6)  Mackenzie Mills Vintage Division I
7)  Marisa Carino Oakmont Division III
8)  Mikayla Florez Riverbank Division IV
9)  Lauren Larocco St. Francis (Sacramento) Division I
10)  Karina Nunes Woodcreek Division III

Central Coast Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  Yohaness Estifanos Milpitas Division I
2)  Cody Johnson San Lorenzo Valley Division IV
3)  Richard Ho Leland Division II
4)  Miguel Vasquez Andrew Hill Division I
5)  Rory Beyer Aragon Divison II
6)  Steven Sum Saratoga Division III
7)  Charles DeAnda Bellarmine Division I
8)  Eduardo Garibay Yerba Buena Division II
9)  Ciaran Murphy St. Ignatius Division III
10)  Mark Vingralek Carlmont Division I

1)  Nikki Hiltz Aptos Division III
2)  Anna Maxwell San Lorenzo Valley Division IV
3)  Vanessa Fraser Scotts Valley Division IV
4)  Sarah Robinson Gunn HS Division I
5)  Vanessa Estrada San Benito Division I
6)  Kylie Goo Westmoor Division II
7)  Molly Haar Archbishop Mitty Division II
8)  Katherine Lowdon Burlingame Division III
9)  Kaila Gibson Soquel Division IV
10)  Clare Peabody Aptos Division III

Comments?  Changes?  Who was left off?  Who should move up?  Who should move down?  Who are the impact freshmen?

North Coast Section Top 10 Individuals (Boys and Girls)

1)  John Lawson Sir Francis Drake Division IV
2)  Connor Clark University Division V
3)  Blair Hurlock De La Salle Division I
4)  Paul Holden Ukiah Division II
5)  Tyler Hanson Miramonte Division III
6)  Danny Stalters Northgate Division III
7)  Gabe Arias-Sheridan St. Joseph Notre Dame Division V
8)  Jaime Silva Piner Division IV
9)  Clayton Hutchins Sir Francis Drake Division IV
10)  Trevor Reinhart Marin Academy Division V

1)  Julia Maxwell Branson Division V
2)  Jena Pianin Amador Valley Division I
3)  Diribe Abdo Berkeley Division I
4)  Christine Bayliss San Ramon Valley Division I
5)  Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley Division IV
6)  Jennie Callan University Division V
7)  Maryann Gong Granada Division I
8)  Ashley Moffett Casa Grande Division II
9)  Sarah Perrin James Logan Division I
10)  Rachel Johnson Campolindo Division III

Feel free to comment on above rankings.  Please use times and past race results to enhance your points.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Sit Out Period - Frequently Asked Questions

Catching up with Trabuco Hills coach, Liam Clemons...

Today we chat with Trabuco Hills HS coach, Liam Clemons (photo to the left courtesy of  During the fall, Liam's boys varsity team won their 2nd state meet title (also won in 2006) in the uber competitive Division I.  The previous week, they finished 4th in the Southern Section meet behind Arcadia, Rancho Cucamonga and Great Oak.  For his team's accomplishments, Liam was named CIF Southern Section 2011 fall boys cross country coach of the year by the California Coaches Association.  In high school, Liam ran at Del Campo HS for the legendary Bob King and was a team member on the 1995 state championship team.  

1)  What sports did you participate in before and during high school?
I have been an athlete most of my life. I started as a gymnast in the 2nd grade and competed in the all-around and rings until I started high school. I started running cross country in high school when Bob King recruited me from P.E.. I thought he meant skiing, but I stayed anyway. I was a varsity runner at Del Campo High School starting in my sophomore year. I have now been a competitive runner for over 20 years.

2)  Who were your most influential coaches for you and what did you learn from them that have helped you today as a coach?
Personally, I learned a great deal from Bob King. He taught me the value of hard work and showed me that anything is possible if I am willing to stay the course. King was tough, but he understood that we were all tougher than we thought we were. I try to show my runners the same thing. When everyone else seemed to be slamming high mileage in the 90's, we consistently put in over 80 mpw. I had several weeks in high school that were in the 95-mile range.

In college, I was largely influenced by Jean Snuggs and Rick Anderson at American River College. They both helped me gain confidence and improve my tactics. I still use workout that I learned from Rick and Jean was the first coach that really opened my eyes to mental training.

3)  What led you into teaching and coaching?
I never considered coaching until I started doing it. I had been a photojournalist for a newspaper in NorCal until I was laid off. I moved south to Orange County to live with my wife's family and was introduced to her high school coach, Jack Recla. He said he needed an assistant, I said I would give it a shot, and here we are. Once I started coaching, I found that I enjoyed working with teens and helping them reach their goals. I saw an opportunity at Trabuco Hills to start building a program that kids would want to be a part of. After my first year as a head coach in 2004, I was hooked and decided to get my teaching credential.

4)  Tell us a little about your first experience (year) coaching and what you learned from that experience?
My first year was very interesting. I was an assistant, charged with coaching the kids who had the least potential. I had never really considered how to motivate kids who were not already motivated, so I just started making up inspirational stories and having them play games every day at practice. I am a very competitive guy, so I set a goal of having my group of mostly the slower freshmen shake up the roster and do some damage at the end of the season. I was surprised how quickly the boys and girls bought into what we were trying to do and I think that is what really peaked my interest. By the end of the season kids from my group were scoring on the freshman teams and having a blast.

I think that season taught me that the word "talent" is pretty much worthless with respect to high school kids. When the athletes are motivated and having fun they will work hard and that is what really matters.

5)  During your coaching tenure, who have been your coaching mentors?
That is probably a long list. I think of myself as a sponge; I never stop absorbing new ideas from other coaches. I have learded a lot from reading the "classics": Daniels, Vigil, Bowerman and Dillinger, and of course Lydiard. I have also learned a great deal from reading what Hudson and McMillan discuss; their new-school approaches that combine a lot of aerobic training and supplementary spots-science.I have also had the opportunity to listen to some great coaches at the LA84 clinics, which really helped me organize things in the early going.

I spent time talking to Pat Tyson and I really identified with his playful spirit and enthusiasm. His organizational skills are great and I definitely took a lot from our conversations. I am fortunate to coach in a league with some great mentors. I get schooled every year by Tim Butler of Dana Hills and Rick Hagin of El Toro. Even when we have beaten them, I take note of how they operate. Both have had amazing success and have very different programs.

Lastly, I would be remiss to not mention Hartzell Alpizar. He has been assisting me for the last few years and has truly been a blessing. His experience running at UCLA in the 70's and his 30+ years of coaching in Long Beach have added a lot to my program. He is also probably the kindest person I have ever met and constantly reminds me what is really important in life.

6)  As for as summer training goes, what are your expectations for your runners?
I expect my runners to report to our summer practices on July 9 in shape. I run a year-round program and I expect my runners to train year round. Our first practice is a brutal 12-mile run through the local foothills. There are no water stops and no short cuts. It is usually 85+ degrees by the end of the run, so they know they need to be prepared. My goals for summer are pretty simple: build the team, build the base, build the knowledge base, and have fun.

Attendance is mandatory for all returning runners and, although there are vacations and what not, I think 90% of the team is there most of the summer.

7)  During the season, what does a typical week look like with a Saturday invitational?  Mid-week race?  Mileage for varsity runners?  Key workouts?
In-Season weeks are all pretty similar. IT depends on the point in the season, but milage is consistently around 70 mpw.

Monday - Long run 12-15 miles
Tuesday - Aerobic run of 8-10 miles with 200m repeats
Wednesday - Intervals, Fartlek or hills (4x1600m w/ 1 min rest or 8x1000m @ 2:45-3:10)
Thursday - Threshold Run: 20 min warm up, 20 min threshold, 20 min cool down
Friday - Recovery Run 6-10 miles
Saturday - Race (Total mileage of 12-15 miles)
Sunday - Optional 4-6 mile run

8)  With the rugged competition in the Southern Section, what do you feel are the keys to preparing your runners to race well over the final month of the season?  What changes in terms of training during that final month?
I think callousing is the most important factor. They need to be conditioned to race hard every week. We never take a race easy, but we might pack run in varying configurations. I do not change much over the last month with the exception of challenging the varsity guys to run faster in their intervals and increase the mental energy a little. I do not taper much, but we will drop to about 55 miles the week of the state meet. I also use down weeks once a month. That is a 15% reduction in volume to help the guys recover and adapt to the training.

9)  Your team finished 4th at the SS meet and then leapfrogged those 3 teams to claim the state championship the following week.  Was that a surprise or just a matter of running a better race at state?
Simply put, it was a matter of peaking and confidence. We ran almost an identical race at the Clovis Invitational. The difference was that some of our key guys were healthier at the State Meet and that helped our confidence. I figured some of the other teams would try to do too much too early in that race and that if we stayed tightly packed and weathered the fast early pace, we could pull away over the last mile. The guys bought into it and the rest is history. I think the other key factor is that I never stress the CIF SS meet. I just don't talk it up much and we train right through it.

10)  What have been some of your proudest achievements at Trabuco Hills HS?
Well, I think the two state titles are among my favorite achievements. I am most proud of those because of how we won, not just because we won. I have to say that what brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment is walking out to practice and seeing a team that is more like a big family than anything else. I know we are producing quality citizens who will make a difference in the world.

11)  Tell us a little about coaching Jantzen Oshier and what led to his spectacular senior season in track?
Coaching Jantzen was a blast at times and caused me to loose a lot of hair! He and I developed such a strong relationship over the four years that his senior season was really more of a culmination of all the work we did over our whole time together than just one amazing season. He and I were on the same page that year and we both knew what the other was expecting. I wanted him to be honest with me at all times and he wanted me to guide him to and through the big efforts we were peaking for.

His workouts were amazing and he did all the little things to prepare himself for each and every race. I don't think that people around the country really appreciated how hard he worked because he seemed to make it look easy on race day. He was unbeaten up to the Adidas Grad Prix and he accomplished every goal we had set for him that season. That doesn't happen by accident or luck.

In the end, we didn't even look at times anymore. We just focused on his timing and his effort. He wanted to race for something more than time and I was happy to help.

12)  If you could identify the key factors to leading a successful cross country program, what would those be?
That is an easy one. #1 is create a culture. It has to work with your personality and your demographics, but you have to do something to establish a culture at your school that your runners can identify with and participate in. #2 is service. I don't coach to make young men win me titles, I coach in service to young men who have decide to chase titles. #3 Be adaptable and learn from those who kick your butt. I think that one is self explanatory. #4 Don't sacrifice your principles to win. If a fast kid is a turd, treat him like a turd and not a fast kid. In the end, your program will benefit.

13)  What are the primary differences in training between cross country and track and field?
The biggest difference for me is the frequency of hard efforts. I will usually trade in the long run for an additional interval session in track. Is it ideal? No, but with two meets a week and a very competitive league, I figure that we can sacrifice some volume for intensity for at least part of the season. There is also a heavy focus on the individual and a diminished sense of team. In some ways that is good, but it can hurt a larger program like ours at times. I always tell the kids that Cross Country is where you learn to love running, but track is where you learn to race.

14)  Anything else you would like to add.
I think the best advice I can give any coach is to forget the word pride and have some fun. I want to mold and mentor young men who go on to do great things, but I also want them to realize that life should be enjoyed. I see so many coaches at meets who are taking themselves way to seriously. Lighten up, play a little frisbee and joke around with your athletes. Love your doing job more than winning.

Liam Clemons
Head Coach Boys' Cross Country / Track & Field
Boys' & Girls' Distance Coach
Biology Teacher
Trabuco Hills High School

Run to Live. Live to Run

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

2012 NCS Division IV Pre-Season Rankings

So what's in store for 2012?  A couple of high powered additions will have an impact on who wins the team championships (boys and girls).  Piner HS moves down to Division IV after a remarkable season in Division III.  The Piner boys chased Campolindo to a 2nd place finish at the NCS MOC meet and then returned the favor at state by outpointing them by 1 point, earning their first plaque with a 3rd place finish.  The Piner girls finished a very competitive 6th place and had two individual state meet qualifiers (Kyra and Dezirae Johnson).  Chloe Pigg is an incoming freshman at Arcata HS and her credentials are quite impressive (see below).  She joins an already potent Arcata HS team that won the NCS championship last year.

The road to either NCS title (team and individual) on the boys side will  go through Sir Francis Drake HS this coming season.  Drake will be the favorites to win the team title with the best 1/2 punch in this division, John Lawson (4:18.55/9:12.23) and Clayton Hutchins (4:19.88/9:34.84).  They lose a very talented 3rd runner, Will Baker-Robinson (9:29.29), and will need their young runners (Matt Saunders 4:41.06 and Cole Schwartz 4:50.54 and  to step up to win this division.  Drake will once again be led by veteran coach Bill Taylor and Rod Berry, one of the all-time greats in California HS running.  Interestingly, Berry will also be coaching his son this coming season, freshman Kent.

The school challenging for the team title once again will be St. Mary's Berkeley.  They have won the NCS Division IV title 4 times in the past 6 years and finished 2nd both years they didn't win.  They lose their top two runners from last year (Duncan Calvert and Stevie Greene) but chances are they will be reloading to challenge once again.  Leading the way for the Panthers will be senior Patrick Mariolle (2:04.21/4:31.35) who finished in 9th place last year at the NCS MOC XC meet.  Interesting note, St. Mary's coach Jeff Rogers is the school record holder at UC Berkeley with a jump of 7'5 3/4".

When the NCS divisions first came out, one of the biggest changes was Piner HS dropping down to Division IV from Division III.  While Division III teams celebrated about not having to deal with Piner for at least a year, Division IV teams groaned at the prospects of facing another great program in this division.  During the past three seasons, Piner HS finished in 9th place in 2009, 4th place in 2010 and a 2nd in 2011 (3rd at state).  They lose the talented Luis Luna but return their #2 and #3 runners (Jaime Silva-4th in Division III last year and Efren Reyes-9:56.82).  Matt Mulligan (9:58.87) gives Piner 3 strong runners up front and if some of their young runners can step up, Piner could be vying for a team championship here.

Another dangerous team in this division will be Cardinal Newman.  They also lose their #1 runner, Alexi Taylor but return #2-#5 runners as well as their 7th runner.  Veteran coach Pat Lafortune returns to lead the team along with assistant coach Kevin King (Georgetown University Hall of Famer).  Jack Bowlby ran 16:12 on the Hayward course last year and will lead the team this year.  Fellow senior Charlie King (Kevin's son) has a 10:03.26 3200m. PR and will be vying for a top 10 finish at the NCS meet next year.

Just 2 years removed from an improbable state championship, San Rafael will once again be in the hunt for a top spot.  SR coach Jason Jacobson has quietly led one of the most consistent programs in this division.  In a rebuilding year last season, SR finished in 4th place to once again qualify for the state meet.  They have a little more returning this year and will at the very least by fighting for another top 4 finish.  They will be led by senior Joey Morris who finished 6th at last year's NCS MOC XC meet and continue to improve during track by posting 1:58.47/4:28.11/9:56.48 times.  He has top 5 potential as an individual.

The dark horse in this division will be El Molino.  They finished in 8th place last year but return everybody this year and 6 of the 7 runners will be seniors.  They had a very productive track season by posting lots of new personal records.  Seniors Ben Schulz (9:58.39) and Rodrigo Vargas (9:59.54) both dipped under 10 minutes in the 3200m.  Sophomore to be Brady Lane (Nicole's brother) ran an impressive 4:42.92 1600m. during his frosh track season.  Definitely a team to watch.

The race for the individual title has a clear cut favorite.  John Lawson of Drake was the MCAL, NCS and state champion and had a very productive track and field season with new personal records in the 1600 and 3200m.  The road to another championship won't be easy though as Piner's Jaime Silva ran only 4 seconds slower than Lawson in the Division III race last year.  He needs to regain that form in order to contend.  The other contenders will be Drake teammate Clayton Hutchins, Joey Morris of San Rafael, Jack Bowlby of Cardinal Newman, Julian Frost of Piedmont and Patrick Mariolle of St. Mary's Berkeley.

As with the boys, the run to the girls' team title has a prohibitive favorite.  The defending champion, Arcata HS, has the majority of their team back and now add a potential individual titlist in Chloe Pigg.  Her dad Mike was at one point a world class triathlete who finished 2nd at the 1988 Ironman Triathlon.  Arcata returns 6 out of their top 7 from last year and with the addition of Pigg could do some damage at the state meet in Division IV.  Their lead runner last year was freshman Elizabeth Ford who finished 4th and will be the 2nd fastest returning runner in this division.

St. Mary's Berkeley has been a consistent contender in this division with top 4 finishes in the last 7 seasons including NCS championships in 2007 and 2008 (2nd at state both seasons as well).  Their front runner will be last year's 2nd place finisher, junior Spencer Moore (5:07.70/11:25.26).  They return 5 of their top 7 but in order to compete with Arcata, they will need to all collectively improve from last season.  Natalia Riccardi gave St. Mary's a 2nd runner under 20 minutes on the Hayward course with her 19:53 last year.

The team vying for a top 3 finish will be Sir Francis Drake.  They finished 4th last year and will return 6 of their top 7 runners.  They do lose their #1 runner from last year, Bianca Doerschlog who was more than a minute ahead of her teammates at 20:11.  This year's team will be more of a pack attack unless they can add some younger runners to lead the way.

With only 3 teams making their way to state in this division, the previous three teams mentioned might be hard to surpass.  Piner HS finished a very competitive 6th place in the much tougher Division III race last year.  They do lose the Johnson twins but do return their 3-5th runners including Paloma Romero (11:50.81).  With a couple of solid additions, they could break into the top 3 and punch their ticket to the state meet.  Fortuna returns everybody from last year but will need to tighten up their 1-5 gap.  The rest of the teams who should be in the top 10 includes Piedmont, Marin Catholic and San Marin.

The favorite at this moment to win the individual title is St. Mary's Berkeley runner, Spencer Moore.  She won as a freshman (18:32) and finished 2nd last year in a faster time (17:45) behind El Molino's Nicole Lane.  Her closest finishers from last year's race were freshmen Elizabeth Ford of Arcata (19:10), Jordan Allen of Marin Catholic (19:27) and Zoe Ziegler of Arcata (19:31).  The wildcard will be Chloe Pigg of Arcata.  Based on her resume before high school, Chloe might be the best runner in this division next year.

Division IV Boys (Top 4 Advance to state)
1) Sir Francis Drake-Might have the runners to upend St. Mary's.
2) Piner-New kid on the block.
3) St. Mary's Berkeley-Top 2 last 6 years.
4) Cardinal Newman-Triumvirate up front could be enough to make state.
5) San Rafael-This will be a rebuilding year for the defending champions.
On the bubble:  Arcata, El MolinoMoreau Catholic, Piedmont

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
John Lawson (1) Drake 15:17
Clayton Hutchins (4) Drake 16:00
Joey Morris (6) San Rafael 16:09
Jack Bowbly (7) Cardinal Newman 16:12
Julian Frost (8) Piedmont 16:19
From Division III:
Jaime Silva (4) Piner 15:21
Efren Reyes (19) Piner 15:51
Matt Mulligan (31) Piner 16:14

Division IV Girls (Top 3 Advance to state)
1)  Arcata-As much of a lock as any team in any division.
2)  St. Mary's Berkeley-Spencer Moore leads the way here.
3)  Sir Francis Drake-Bill Taylor always seems to find a way.
4) Piner-Program on a roll.  Could be dangerous in this division.
5) Fortuna-Return all 7 runners after 6th place finish last year.
On the bubble:  Marin CatholicPiedmontSan Marin

Top 5 returning individuals, (place) and 2011 NCS meet time:
Spencer Moore (2) St. Mary's 18:32
Elizabeth Ford (4) Arcata 19:10
Jordan Allen (6) Marin Catholic 19:27
Zoe Ziegler (7) Arcata 19:31
Vera Heidmann (8) Arcata 19:38

Northern California individuals and teams have done quite well at the state meet in this division.  Here is a list of recent accomplishments in the past five years (different sections other than NCS noted):

John Lawson Sir Francis Drake 1st
Vanessa Fraser (CCS) Scotts Valley 1st
Kaila Gibson (CCS) Santa Cruz 6th
Nicole Lane El Molino 7th
Anna Maxwell (CCS) San Lorenzo Valley 8th
Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley 9th
Yreka (NS) 1st (Boys)
San Lorenzo Valley (CCS) 2nd (Girls)

Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 1st
John Lawson Sir Francis Drake 5th
Trevor Ehlenbach San Rafael 7th
Ned Tannenbaum University 8th
Anna Maxwell (CCS) San Lorenzo Valley 3rd
Vanessa Fraser (CCS) Scotts Valley 4th
Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley 7th
Becky Hobby (SJS) Hughson 8th
Nina Anderson (CCS) Notre Dame Salinas 10th
San Rafael 1st (Boys)
Stevenson (CCS) 3rd (Boys)

Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 1st
Dan Maxwell St. Mary's Berkeley 3rd
Brian King Cardinal Newman 6th
Matt Airola (SJS) Bret Harte 9th
Theresa Devine Marin Catholic 2nd
Rebecca Hobby (SJS) Hughson 5th
Nina Anderson (CCS) Notre Dame Salinas 7th
Corissa Storms (NS) West Valley 8th

Tyre Johnson (CCS) Palma 1st
Brennan Lynch (CCS) Santa Cruz 2nd
Daniel Milechman Tamalpais 3rd
Dan Maxwell St. Mary's Berkeley 5th
Tiffany Heflin (NS) Lassen 3rd
Theresa Devine Marin Catholic 5th
Michelle Johnson (NS) West Valley 7th
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Girls)

German Fernandez (SJS) Riverbank 1st (Woodward Park course record 14:24)
Tyre Johnson (CCS) Palma 2nd
Matt Duffy St. Mary's Berkeley 4th
Matt Airola (SJS) Bret Harte 6th
Brennan Lynch (CCS) Santa Cruz 7th
Sarah Sumpter Healdsburg 1st
Jennifer Bergman (CCS) Valley Christian SJ 2nd
Annie Lee (CCS) Stevenson 3rd
Michelle Johnson (NS) West Valley 8th
Kelsey Ripp San Rafael 10th
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Boys)
St. Mary's Berkeley 2nd (Girls)

That's 7 individual state champions, 2 team champions and 5 additional podium teams.

Let me know your thoughts. Did I miss anybody? Who is looking good this summer? Any other freshmen that will have an impact in this division?

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