Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bob Padecky: Career in sports reaches finish line

St. Ignatius in search of track coach (distance assistant)

"St Ignatius College Prepin San Francisco, CA (CCS) is seeking a High School Assistant for the Track Distance Program. The SI program is a successful and competitive program in the WCAL and Central Coast Section. An applicant should be willing to work with the existing coach and have a willingness to learn and contribute to help the program continue to move forward. High school practices Monday through Friday and some Saturdays. This is a paid position. Interested candidates should email their resume and letter of interest to distance coach Nicholas Alvarado at NAlvarado@siprep.org."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Spokane Sparrow: an Unlikely Hero of Distance Running by Ruth Seabrook

An interview with Gerry Lindgren

By Ruth Seabrook, Northgate High School assistant cross country coach (above on right)

Ask any person to name a world famous runner and you might get a handful of contemporary names: Mo Farrah, Galen Rupp and Usain Bolt.  If you asked about historic runners, you might hear a couple more: Jesse Owens, winning four gold medals in front of Hitler at the1936 Olympics, Roger Bannister the first man to break the four minute mile in 1954, or maybe even the 1970’s hero of track, Steve Prefontaine who held seven American track distance records when he upturned his convertible at the tender age of 24 and was so publicly lauded and mourned by his fans.

Gerry Lindgren is not a name you would hear if you asked this question.  However, the most cursory research reveals that he was an incredible runner with many sources praising him as “the greatest high school distance runner ever.”  In high school he set records in the mile, 3,000m, 2 mile, 5k and 10k races and further qualified for the Olympics as a senior in high school. He went on to win 11 NCAA championships as a collegiate runner at Washington State, and was one of the few who could beat the better-known Steve Prefontaine.  When the popularity of running rose during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s only Gerry could wear the “STOP Pre” tee shirt with any air of authenticity.

So why hadn’t I or any one else I knew heard of him?  Was it because he lacked the long haired flamboyancy of Pre, who had then been further immortalized by his tragic rock n roll death?  Was it because he faded away rather than burning out?  Or was it because he eschewed publicity, had little or no ego and referred to himself as “a little wimpy guy with a high voice?”

Living a quiet life in Hawaii, Gerry Lindgren had surprised us when contacted and readily agreed to come and speak to our small team of high school runners and talk to them about his own running career and philosophy while we were in Honolulu for the Iolani Invitational this past September.

A tidy bespectacled smaller man in his late 60’s walked over with a certain intensity and sense of purpose to our small group of runners warming up in Kapiolani  Park by the Honolulu Zoo.  After some low key introductions Gerry started to tell his story, and what a story it was – not many people could hold a group of high schoolers still bleary from the long plane ride, about to start their work out in a steamy humid park in Hawaii and keep them standing for an hour standing in rapt attention.

Maybe it resonated so much because Gerry started his story at about the age of most of our runners, the sophomore year in high school.  He had gone out for track, and was probably the slowest kid on the team.  Skinny, short with a high pitched voice, he hadn’t even been strong enough to open the heavy set doors of the school on the first day of freshman year, needing a young girl to open it for him.  The humiliations of freshman year followed him onto the track. While running 440 yards in training sessions he was miserable, in pain and was consistently last.  Punched and derided by his peers who had no time for the skinny slow kid, he finally ran one of the quarters with a rocket start, out of both fear and rage, before dying 150 yards into the lap and again finishing in his usual last place.

In all our lives there are major turning points.  This was probably one of the biggest for Gerry as that 440 proved pivotal.  His coach pulled him to one side and explained that the entire team had run faster through that last quarter because they did not want the skinny slow kid to beat them, and though he hadn’t done well himself, he had inspired his team.  At that moment he gave Gerry a purpose and mission in life for the first time, and one that has created the man he is today.

Emerging from an abusive and alcoholic home it appeared that all Gerry needed was someone to give him that purpose and direction and he took to running with a mission:

When I think back, because I wasn’t as good as other people when I started out, I knew that I had to do more to help lead the pace. So I started getting up early in the morning and running five or six miles of easy running that wasn’t even taxing. Then I would run with the team after school. Then in the middle of the night I started getting up at one or two o’clock and running a 10-mile run so that would give me extra mileage. I did this so I could run as well as the other runners but it turned out a lot better I guess. I think the people who are slower and not as athletic have the chance to do better than those who are athletic and have ability because if you have the ability you don’t have to do a lot of extra work to “get there.”  If you have to do extra work you develop an ability to do more so that you can get where you want to go. So in some ways it is much better to be slow than to be naturally fast. In running it is always the person who does the most work who gets to where he wants to be.

Gerry’s running philosophy didn’t need sophisticated visuals or overheads, as he simply described it with one hand.  Each finger of the hand describes one of the components of running.  The strong opposable thumb was the running base, that extensive aerobic base he built running uncountable miles each summer up and down Mount Spokane or to the lake to fish, often running 50 miles or more each day with no thought of speed or pace.

The next finger, the important forefinger, signifies direction. For Gerry that was curiously never about winning, or beating others, but was instead based on that first idea of his track coach, to be that wimpy kid who could inspire other runners to be better.  He mentioned those tactical passionless distance races you see at major events that sees runners today often staying steady and unchallenged until the final sprint 400m.  Gerry believed you dishonored the race to run that way and I am pretty certain if he had been in the 10k he would have been running a killer all out sprint quarter or 800m much earlier than the bell lap.  In Gerry’s world it seemed an overwhelming desire to win could crush and sink your ability to run fast; he was instead known for some signature risky moves during his races that would scare other runners to death.

The next finger was of course the middle finger – one that Gerry said had been firmly pointed in his direction much of his life.  Running at midnight was clearly a risky business and he had been arrested, shot at and screamed at countless times due to his unconventional training hours and methods.  Still, back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s there were no recreational runners and seeing a kid running fiercely at midnight clearly was an unusual sight and one that the local cops couldn’t help but respond to in their inimitable fashion.  His broader point was that many will deride the distance runner and tell you either your knees will give out at age 30, or you are just plain crazy, but if you have belief in your own direction that should not deter you.  The criticism of others was often based on fear of the unknown and their own insecurities rather than any substantiated fact or belief.

The ring finger was there to signify commitment – the commitment to hard work and training.  The pain in your legs, the cold weather, the difficulty or misery in running, the injuries, were all part of that commitment.

Finally he held up his little finger.  Gerry reminded us of the need for humility.  Being small and insignificant that finger was to remind us that seeking greatness as a runner was not a good idea.  Gerry had never sought greatness in that way – he left as a legacy countless records and amazing races, but his real legacy was his part in the running revolution where American distance runners finally believed they could be the best in the world.  An illustration of this was his famous race against the soviets in the dual US/USSR meet in 1964 in Los Angeles.  With the cold war at its height the Russians actively used sport to promote the notion that the “lazy Americans” would never beat them.  That had been proved true on many an occasion. His training for the US/USSR meet saw him running 250 miles a week with workouts three times a day.  A 15/18 mile run to work up appetite for breakfast, speed 440’s at lunch time to get some intensity in, then an easy 7 – 10 miler just before bed.  With the eyes of the world on him, Gerry defied the odds and managed to beat two world class Russians, Ivanov and Dutov by a huge 150m lead.  Instead of describing every detail of this heroic feat, he recounted being scared to death as he had expected not only to lose, but probably to get lapped by the Russians in the race.  Only on his cool down did he realize that the ominous tap of spikes on cinder that haunted his every effort had been the echo of his own spikes, not the Russians closing in on him.

Gerry had crazy anecdotes such as nearly missing the USSR meet as he had got lost on a training run in LA just before the race.  Wearing jean shorts, sweating profusely and miles from the meet point with his coach,he had doors slammed in his face every time he tried to borrow a phone, as he no doubt looked like a feverish addict rather than the accomplished athlete he had become.  Despite being an Olympic athlete and NCAA champion he had been shot at by police who thought he was fleeing crime scenes and been arrested countless times in different towns for running at night.  Here he was a guy in a leafy park in Hawaii park telling his stories to a group of kids.

I was curious as to what they would make of him?  The kids seemed to be fascinated by his intensity, passion and astounding stories of his running past.  His unusual training methods clearly had an effect.  Several started to talk about a “Gerry move” in a race, which was doing an all-out sprint at an unlikely moment – perhaps running the entire first mile of a race much harder than was advisable, or getting to 2.5 m in a 5k and sprinting way before any one else saw the end in sight.  The idea was crazy – but crazy good.  The only difference was Gerry didn’t just pull a move like that in the race, he trained that way. He did it in races because he knew it and practiced it every day. If he wanted to learn to go out hard in races he would run a 10 miler every day and try to hit a 4 minute mile for the first mile (he never quite got there, but did hit 4:08).  He said the body would fight you for weeks, then finally it would relent and allow you to do the impossible.  His self belief and disregard for the boundaries of his own physicality were inspiring.

Gerry’s faith was in his will, desire and imagination would allow him to achieve it.  He knew that it was the mind that set limitations on our efforts and that the body was capable of so much more.  One of the boys started eye-rolling as soon as Gerry remarked that the pain he felt in his legs at the start of the season was terrible, but that he realized it was making him a better stronger runner, so next season he tried to hold on to the pain by working harder, and counted it as a huge success as he had managed to stay in agony for eight weeks instead of six.  It clearly put some of our harder workouts into a more positive context – the runs that don’t feel good are often those that do you the most good in terms of transforming you as a runner.

The messages that hard work, dedication and the embracing of pain were part of what had created this legendary runner were not so surprising.  The vivid accounts of how he had achieved those feats and the use of his alternative reality where he described imaginary saber toothed tigers chasing him whenever he wanted an injection of adrenaline induced speed were riveting -- like the time he imagined all his competitors as knife-wielding lunatics ready to stab and kill him if he let them get anywhere near him -- were dramatic and intriguing.

What the high schoolers got to witness in meeting the Sparrow of Spokane was that any one of them could be an incredible runner.  Gerry had taken the worst of circumstances, an unstable hostile home, an unathletic physique and through sheer will and the powers of his imagination had transformed himself into a world class Olympic athlete with the humility and philosophical wisdom of the Dalai Lama.

Gerry’s five-finger philosophy had reached out and touched five new runners that day.

September 19, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Catching up with Nevada Union HS runner, Garrett Migliozzi...

Today we chat with Nevada Union HS senior, Garrett Migliozzi (pictured to the left with his coaches courtesy of The Union).  This past season, Migliozzi finished 2nd at the Stanford Invitational Division I race, won the Rough Rider Invitational and won the Division I race at the SJS meet by nearly 30 seconds.  At the CA state XC meet, Migliozzi raced courageously to a 6th place finish after collapsing 10 yards from the finish line.  You can check out the finish at this link courtesy of Bob Rush and Hank Lawson's website.  At the recently posted All NorCal XC teams, Migliozzi was voted 1st team All NorCal and SJS runner of the year.  Last spring, Migliozzi finished in 3rd at the SJS Masters meet in the 1600m. running a lifetime best time of 4:15.80 and qualify for the CA state track and field meet.

1)  How did you get your start in running?  What was your first success?
I started running in 6th grade on the XC team, I didn't run XC every year from 6th grade on, but I did run track every year. As to when I had my first success, I can't really remember. It depends on what you quantify success as. To me success is pushing yourself to the limits with the situation you are given, whether you win or lose or set a new record. So in that case my first success was when I ran my first race in 6th grade. I think I was 6th or 7th in the race, but I remember vomiting and not being able to walk back to the car when it was over.

2)  Tell us a little about your freshman experience in high school in both sports (XC and TF).  Highlights in both sports.  Who were your mentors or runners that you looked up to as a freshman?
 I did not run XC as a Freshman. I did run track though. The highlight of my Freshman year was probably breaking 5:00 in 1600m, nothing else really stands out in my memory about Freshman year. The main person I looked up to my Freshman year was Dominic Castro-Wehr. He was a Junior at the time and I remember watching him have some close kick finishes in the 1600m that really inspired me to try to do the same in my races.

3)  What about your sophomore seasons?  Highlights in both sports?
Sophomore year was my first year of High School XC and I remember the first 5k I ran in the summer was around 23:00. I kept at it and by the beginning of the XC season I was in the high 18:00s. The race that stands out the most was at the Stanford Invitational where my goal was to break 18:00. I remember just moving up the entire race and I finished with a 17:26, way above my expectations. My best race, however, was at Folsom when I got down to 17:04(I think) and on that course that was a really good time for me at the time. In Track that year I remember breaking 2:00 in the 800 for the first time, and that was really big for me. My goal for the 1600m that year had been high 4:30s and I ended up running a 4:28, coming in behind Dominic Castro-Wehr at a dual meet. I was really surprised when I heard my time. This was towards the end of the season and I ended up taking a nasty fall while trying to qualify for the 800 at Leagues and I never got to finish my season.

4)  What do you feel was your best race during your junior cross country season?  What about during track season? 
Junior year of XC my best race was definitely at Sections where I ran a 15:59 on the Folsom course, which I think is better than a 15:42 I ran at Clovis earlier that year considering the course. In track my favorite(not necessarily best) was at Leagues in the 1600m. I really wanted to beat Trent Brendel, a Senior at the time from Granite Bay, because I knew he was, based off the evidence and my own observations, the best guy out there. I followed him for the first two laps and I believe I was in 6th and he was in 5th. The first 800 was slow, about a 2:18 for me, 2:16ish for the leaders. Trent started to really pick it up on the third lap, and I went with him. By the fourth lap it was him in first and me in second going at a pretty fast pace. It seemed like we both just kept going harder and harder all the way till the end. I ended up passing him in the last 100m to win with a 4:17. We had run about a 1:59-2:00 last 800, which I thought was pretty insane considering that just a year from then that was my PR in the 800. Trent ended up beating me at Sections and Masters, and finished his season with a 4:13 while I had a 4:15.

5)  What did you do differently in preparation for your senior cross country season?  Workouts?  Typical mileage per week?  Races?  
There wasn't much difference between preparation for my Senior year of XC as opposed to my Junior year. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I was running faster on my easy runs and long runs than I was my junior year, I just wasn't going much farther. Same thing with the workouts, they were scaled to be harder time wise, but they were along the same lines as what I was doing my junior year. I was doing around 60 miles a week.

6)  Looking back at this past cross country season, what do you feel were your best races and proudest accomplishments?
The best races I had were probably at the Rough Rider Invitational (Woodward Park course), Sections (Folsom Course), and State(Woodward Park Course again).  At state I was in about 10th for most of the race, and I began to move up at the mile. I had moved up to 6th and at the 800 there was another kid about 30m ahead of me. I went harder. I passed him, and kept going. I saw Blake Haney about 20-30m ahead of me in the last 100m and I was going extremely hard, but then my legs started wobbling. For about 50m I felt like I was just dragging my left leg and trying not to collapse and then 10m before the line my legs couldn't go anymore and I fell. I tried to get up to sprint and not let the guy in 6th pass me, but when I got up I could barely even walk, so I just dragged myself across the line and fell again, he got me by one second. I think that was pretty cool to push my body to the point of collapsing. Another thing I was/am pretty psyched about was winning 6 races in a row before state, they were all hard races and I've never been on a win streak in XC before.

7)  What did a typical week look like for you during this past cross country season in terms of training?  
Monday/Wednesday/Friday were always workout days. Tuesday/Thursday were always easy runs at about 8-10 miles, 6:20-7:00 mile pace. Saturday would be my long run day where I'd go about 12-14 miles and Sunday I would usually do an easy 4 mile recovery run.

8)  Tell us about your coaches and how they helped you develop into the runner you are today.
I've had a lot of coaches over the past few years. However, the most prominent ones were Sara Freitas, Herve Pastre and Angela Marino. All three of them helped coach for my senior year of Cross Country. They have always been supportive and have listened to what I have to say. They helped me to make sure I didn't injure myself or push too hard on easy days, and they helped me to understand running and how it works to a much higher level than before. My biggest problem is probably going too fast when I shouldn't be going fast, and they've helped me to tone that down a bit... although today I did go a little too fast on my run... I'm definitely going to slow down tomorrow though.

9)  Favorite XC course?  Favorite XC invitational?  Favorite XC workout?  Favorite distance run?  Favorite opponent(s)?  Favorite TF event?  Favorite TF invitational?  Favorite TF workout
Favorite XC Course: Woodward Park  Favorite XC Invitational: Rough Rider Invitational...  Favorite XC Workout: 5x1 Mile LT with 6x200m at the end... Favorite Distance Run: Don't have one... Favorite opponent(s): Trent Brendel, George Miao, Abdul Hamid, Paul Zeiss... Favorite TF Event: 1600m... Favorite TF Invitational: Arcadia Invitational... Favorite TF Workout: 8x300m with 100m jog rest in between...

10)  Peaking ahead to the track and field season, what are the meets that you are really looking forward to and what are some of your goals?
I'm looking forward to the Stanford Invitational, the Arcadia Invitational, Meet of Champions, Leagues, Sections, Masters, State. One of my goals this year is to run more than just the 1600m all the time. I want to set a record in the 800, the 1600, and the 3200 at my school. The 800 record I'm pretty sure is 1:53.1, the 1600m record is 4:13 (but I want to go faster than that, more like sub 4:10), and the 3200 is 9:04. These are big goals but my main one is just to break 4:10 in the 1600m, the other ones would just be the cherry(s) on top.

11)  Looking back at your high school career, what was the race that gave you the confidence that you can run with the best runners in CA?
There never really was a race that gave me that confidence. After all these years of running when I'm behind some of the best guys in California they look the same way to me as the kid that beat me in 8th grade with a 5:20 1600m did, a target. I will get to as many of these targets as I can, not just in High School, but for the rest of the time that I run competitively. I will probably never reach the highest target, but I will get as far as I can with what I was given, wherever that may be, my biggest fear is that I will not be content when I reach that point. One thing I've realized with running is that it's never enough, after every goal achieved, the next day that same goal is now unsatisfactory. I realize of course that one day I will start to decline, but that day has not come yet, and I guess I'll have to change my way of thinking once it does, but for now, I will do my best to keep climbing.

Thank you very much for your time Garrett!  AJC

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 SJS Distance State Meet Contenders...

As with NCS and CCS, 3 qualify to the CA state Track and Field meet unless you make the 2014 At-Large Time Standards.  It's very possible I could have missed an athlete or two so please chim in below on those athletes.  Additional comments?

Girls 800m.
The favorite:  Han-ah Sumner Davis
Threats:  Ashley Kittle Woodcreek, Jeanne-Marie McPherson Davis
Wildcards:  Camille Boudreaux St. Francis Sac, Kaitlin Derry Bella Vista, Peyton Bilo St. Francis Sac, Kristi Capello Del Campo, Kendall Derry Bella Vista

Boys 800m.
The favorite:  Blake Croft Davis
Threats:  Jack Ploeg Elk Grove, Ben Garcia Pleasant Grove
Wildcards:  Arturo Sotomayor Roseville, Aric Strohmeyer Woodland, Gonzalo Morales Dixon, Steven Hill Bear Creek

Girls 1600m.
The favorite:  Kendall Derry Bella Vista
Threats:  Sophie Meads Davis, Jenica Dodge Whitney, Miranda Myers St. Francis Sac
Wildcards:  Mikayla Florez Riverbank, Peyton Bilo St. Francis Sac, Kaitlin Derry Bella Vista, Hannah Hull Calaveras, Sofia Castiglione Davis, Fiona O'Keeffe

Boys 1600m.
The favorite:  Garrett Migliozzi Nevada Union
Threats:  Paul Zeiss Granite Bay, Steven Grolle Sonora
Wildcards:  George Miao Rocklin, Andrew Brown Jesuit, Carlos Cruz McClatchy, Nathan Wellington Whitney, Arturo Sotomayor Roseville

Girls 3200m.
The favorite:  Fiona O'Keeffe Davis
Threats:  Lauren LaRocco St. Francis Sac, Miranda Myers St. Francis Sac, Madison Rawson St. Francis Sac
Wildcards:   Clare Carroll Vista del Lago, Rachel Peterson Oak Ridge, Giulia McIsaac Davis, Jenica Dodge Whitney

Boys 3200m.
The favorite:  Abdul Hamid Sheldon
Threats:  George Miao Rocklin,  Paul Zeiss Granite Bay, Nathan Wellington Whitney
Wildcards:  Edward Chance Del Campo, Brian Song Davis, Zach Morrett Hughson, Jasper Laca Davis

Next:  Northern California Track and Field Distance Preview

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Erik Olson of Stanford on fighting cancer and the school community's support

2013 Northern California Cross Country Awards

Now that the 2013 XC season is complete, here are my awards for this past cross country season.
2011 Award Winners
2012 Award Winners
Feel free to share your comments below.

Most Valuable Runner (boys)-Aidan Goltra Campolindo/Blair Hurlock De La Salle
Most Valuable Runner (girls)-Fiona O'Keeffe Davis

Most Impressive Performance (boys)-Aidan Goltra at CA State XC Meet
Most Impressive Performance (girls)-Fiona O'Keeffe at CA State XC Meet

Most Impressive Performance (boys' team)-St. Joseph Notre Dame at NCS MOC Meet
Most Impressive Performance (girls' team)-Davis HS at CA State Meet

Most Inspirational (boys)-Blair Hurlock De La Salle (NCS)
Most Inspirational (girls)-Anna Maxwell San Lorenzo Valley (CCS)

Most Improved Runner (boys)-Andrew Brown Jesuit (SJS)
Most Improved Runner (girls)-Bridget Gottlieb Monta Vista (CCS)

Lifetime Achievement Award (boys)-Gabe Arias-Sheridan St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
Lifetime Achievement Award (girls)-Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley (NCS)

Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Sofia Castiglioni Davis HS (SJS)

Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actor)-James Kinney Marin Academy HS (NCS)
Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actress)-Sofia Castiglioni Davis HS (SJS)

Best Three Amigos-Tyler Olson, Jackson Crose and Todd Olson Livermore HS (NCS)
Best Three Amigas-Lauren Larocco, Miranda Myers, Madison Rawson St. Francis, Sac (SJS)

Boys Coach of the Year (Directing)-Patrick McCrystle Bellarmine HS (CCS)
Girls Coach of the Year (Directing)-Bill Gregg Davis HS (SJS)

Any other awards?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who were...

the most improved runner this past season (boy and girl)?

the most inspirational runner this past season (boy and girl)?

the coach's of the year (boys and girls)?

Other awards?  Feel free to chime in.

Donation to Cross Country Express

If you have enjoyed the Cross Country coverage on this website this past season, a kind donation would be appreciated.  You can do so with the link to the right.  If you don't do online payments, you can send a check to Albert Caruana c/o Crystal Springs Uplands School, 400 Uplands Drive, Hillsborough CA 94010.  

This site will remain a free service throughout the year but as you know, a lot of time, effort and money goes into the maintenance of this website.

Thank you to all of you that have contributed already.  It's very much appreciated.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Coming up...

The long awaited All NorCal High School XC Teams (posted either 25th or 26th of December)
Here is the 2012 version as well as the link to the all-time lists:

and the...

2013 Northern California Cross Country Awards (will post after All NorCal teams)
Here are the previous two years:
2011 Award Winners
2012 Award Winners

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014 CCS Distance State Meet Contenders

Here is what I have so far.  Remember only top 3 qualify to the CA state Track and Field meet unless you make the 2014 At-Large Time Standards.  Additions?  Changes?  Comments?

Girls 800m.
The favorite:  Bianca Bryant Piedmont Hills
Threat:  Jeanine Noordam Pioneer
Wildcards:  Annalisa Crowe Menlo Atherton, Priscilla Lee Evergreen Valley, Alex Lathos Notre Dame Salinas, Katie Spence St. Ignatius, Lizza Tardieu Santa Catalina

Boys 800m.
The favorite:  Brandon Sutton Homestead
Threats:  Gerardo Castro El Camino, Gabriel McLarnan St. Francis
Wildcards:  Galdino Bravo Sequoia, Marcus Avila Bellarmine, Ross Corey Woodside Priory, Jesus Covarrubias Wilcox, Andy Shen Lynbrook

Girls 1600m.
The favorite:  Anna Maxwell San Lorenzo Valley
Threats:  Sarah Robinson Gunn, Clare Peabody Aptos
Wildcards:  Melissa Reed Mountain View, Julia Lemak Mitty, Amy Lynch Mt. View, Claire MacMillan San Lorenzo Valley, Hannah Allen Homestead

Boys 1600m.
The favorite:  Scott Edwards Scotts Valley
Threats:  James Welsh Monterey, Gerardo Castro El Camino
Wildcards:  Steven Velarde San Benito Hollister, R.J. Collins San Benito Hollister, Chris Foster Los Gatos, Kevin Lehr St. Ignatius

Girls 3200m.
The favorite:  Anna Maxwell San Lorenzo Valley
Threats:  Sarah Robinson Gunn, Lauren Jacob Los Altos
Wildcards:   Julia Bounds, St. Francis, Gillian Meeks Gunn, Yulisa Abundis Aptos, Claire MacMillan San Lorenzo Valley

Boys 3200m.
The favorite:  Chris Foster Los Gatos
Threats:  Steven Sum Saratoga, Corey Gonzalez Harker, Cooper Sloan Homestead
Wildcards:  Jose Pina Lincoln, Logan Marshall Half Moon Bay, Ben Haderle Los Gatos, Alex Sasser Bellarmine, Matt Seidel Bellarmine, Ryan Dimick Carlmont

Next:  2014 SJS Distance State Meet Contenders

Christopher HS (CCS) needs a distance coach

Distance Track Coach needed at Christopher High in Gilroy, California
Stipend position available.
Season runs February through May
Contact Head Track Coach Jeff Myers at 408-807-1694 or jeff.myers@gilroyunified.org

Friday, December 20, 2013

All NorCal Cross Country Team

I will post the All NorCal Cross Country Team once it's been determined by a panel of coaches/adults.  In the meantime, please feel free to post your own selections and choices.  

Here are the selections from last year as well as a link to past selections dating back to 1953:

The panel will come up with the following:
1st, 2nd, 3rd teams (7 each) and Honorable Mention (20) for Boys and Girls.
Runners of the Year
Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors of the Year.
Section Best Runners of the Year (NS, SJS, NCS, CCS, OAK and SF)
10 All-Freshman Teams (Boys and Girls)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Catching up with Simi Valley HS coach, Roger Evans...

Today we chat with Simi Valley HS coach, Roger Evans (photo to the left of Roger along with former athlete Anna Sperry courtesy of www.dyestat.com).  This past season, the Simi Valley girls' team ended the Saugus girls run of state championships at 7 with a narrow 5 point victory in Division II.  Senior, Sarah Baxter, won her 4th straight state individual title to join Montgomery's Sarah Bei and Mission Prep's Jordan Hasay as the only individuals to win 4 state individual titles.  Under the tutelage of Evans, Simi Valley has finished in the top 5 at state the past four seasons in two different divisions and qualified for NXN 2 out of the last 3 years.  

1. What was your athletic experience as a youth? What sports did you play?
I have always loved running and as a child I was known for being the fastest one at school and I could outlast everyone. My mother claims that I walked around nine months and that I was a child who was in constant motion. On the schoolyard and in the neighborhood we played seasonal sports of baseball, football, basketball and there were constant games of kick-the-can, tag, Red Rover, hide and seek. These were the days before constant monitoring by parents and youth sports. Little League was the youth sports organization available and baseball was THE sport. My high school sports were football, wrestling, baseball, and track (400M). I also wrestled one season at Cal State Northridge (San Fernando Valley State College in my day).

2. What led you into teaching? How long did you teach? What was the most satisfying part of teaching?
When I entered community college I didn’t have a particular direction for a major so my counselor suggested that I work toward a teaching credential since every community has schools so that would ensure the availability of employment. As I worked toward my degree in sociology, history, English, and physical education I continued to take a course in the Education Department. By the time I was a senior it was plain that being a teacher and coach was my calling. I retired from teaching in 2008 after 36 years as mainly an English teacher (I also had taught P.E., Health, Social Studies, and was a Reading Coordinator for my first four years at Simi High). My last 30 years of teaching were at Simi Valley High School. I never saw teaching as a job – it was a career of service to our society. The rewards of being a teacher comes from seeing the growth, maturity, and intellectual development of students.

3. How did you end up coaching the cross-country team at Simi Valley?
When I was hired as a teacher at Simi High in 1977 I was to coach football but my wife and I were expecting our first (and only) child so I refrained from coaching and its time commitment until my daughter reached junior high school. But I did get caught up in the running craze of the 1970’s and 80’s where I competed in tons of road races (from 5K’s to half-marathons). When my daughter turned 7 years old she joined the local track club and I coached her teams until 1990. In 1990 the girl’s cross-country/track coach left the school district and there was no replacement. I had two of the four girls from the cross-country (that’s right they had only four athletes) in my Honors English class. They asked if I would be the coach but I did not feel qualified since I did not have high school coaching experience. As summer was to begin and there was still no cross-country coach I approached the principal and told him I would be willing to work with the girls until a replacement coach was hired. The principal looked at me and asked, ‘You’re a running, right?” I replied, “Yes”. His reply, “Then you’re hired!”

4.What was the state of the program when you first took over? What changes did you make?
The girl’s program was in complete disarray. For the previous five years the girl’s team did have more than four athletes and one year there was only one girl. First I met with the four returning girls and told them to recruit friends and I sought students from my Honors classes (as we know honors students are dedicated, hard working, goal oriented, and plan for long term rewards). I had a meeting with interested athletes and set about goal setting and what would be required to achieve goals. Our first year we had 16 girls and we finished in 4th as a team) in the Marmonte League – missing advancement to CIF-SS Prelims by 6 points. The next we advanced to prelims and our top runner, Rikke Pedersen, finished 14th.

5. During your tenure coaching cross country, who have been your coaching mentors that you feel have helped shape what you do now?
There have been and continue to be so many coaching influences that to name them all would take pages and pages. I was green and raw when I began so I sought any and all advice I could gather. During my first year I heard about Runner’s Workshop and the next summer we spent a week at the Catalina Camp. Evenings were spent with roundtable discussions among the coaches and I was an avid listener. The quality of these coaches both in experience and as quality people shaped my foundation that is instrumental to my coaching today. Included in this group were Tim O’Rourke, Bob Messina, Joe Kelly, Jack Farrell, Steve Scott, Brent Thorne, and Randy Rossi. Also, Ventura County and Marmonte League mentors include Bill Duley, Mike Stewart, Mike Smith, and Brian Fitzgerald. Additionally, during the past 10 years or so George Ramos, Jay Stepp, Bill Vice, Jeffrey Messer and Rene Paragas along with the LA84 Clinics have profoundly changed and improved our program.

6. What does a typical week look like for your team in the middle of the season? Key workouts? Distance of long run? Ancillary work?
During the middle of the season we aerobic strength and power with 2 ½ hard workouts per week along with a 3-4 mile tempo run. We vary the type of power workout but the energy system and goal remains constant. One workout that we find beneficial (and even the athletes like the workout) is what we call AmTrak Hill. This location has rolling hills and when we do 1,000 meters the last 200 meters is up challenging hill. We can also do 800’s, 400’s and hill repeats at this location. We also do cruise miles (5-7 depending on ability level) and we do 60-80 yards sprints (6-8) at the end of the run on Tuesday. Monday and Saturday are our long run days(8-12 miles). We finish the long runs with a “pick up” mile that is sub-cruise (varsity = 5:50-6:10). On Saturday we incorporate what we call LT’S during the run usually starting after 15-20 minutes. LT’s are fast paced surges. These surges can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 seconds with 1 – 3 minutes steady state recovery. We like to get 20-25 minutes of surges completed. We do ancillary exercises after every practice consisting of core, bridge (plank), frog hops, one-leg/two-leg hops, push-ups, lunges, etc.

7. What changes are made during the post season? What does it take to deal with juggernaut that is the SS and the state meet?
We don’t change too much for the post season other than decreasing our volume but the workout intensity remains constant. As challenging as it is to compete in the SS and the state meet I find that the high level of coaching and team competition has made the team and myself much better. We know that to achieve at a championship level requires heightened commitment and focus.

8. You have coached Sarah Baxter the past four years. What have you learned from coaching her?
As was Anna Sperry and Liberty Miller before, Sarah Baxter is a coach’s dream. Her dedication to her teammates and to the sport is unparalleled but it is her innate drive to succeed that I find so remarkable. As a freshman her primary goal was to be undefeated. Sarah is an example of what can be accomplished with the setting of extraordinary standards and is willing to work at a high level to succeed. This, however, is what most athletes do so it is not an uncommon attribute. But Sarah’s  accomplishments have certainly made me look smarter than I am!

9. Your team has qualified for 2 of the last 3 NXN meets. Can you tell us a little about that experience as well as the meet itself?
Competing at NXN is an experience of a lifetime. Everything Nike does is highly organized and first class. It is so remarkable to meet, run, converse, and dine with world-class athletes and to be with the nation’s top teams and individuals as well. It is also an opportunity to meet great coaches from across the United States. Aside from the adverse (at least adverse for Southern Californians) the meet is showcased in a classy manner. The condition of the course this year was highly improved over the conditions when we competed in 2011. Maintenance crews had been working on the course since the first part of November and they continued the work up till race time. Of course, the generous sportswear and gear granted to each athlete is quite astounding as well. I know the memories from our two NXN trips is a common center piece of conversation among the team.

10. From your perspective, what are the key components to successful teams?
I think successful teams are coach driven but athlete centered with coaches who remain with the program to guarantee continuity. Success also comes from the strength of team unity, traditions, setting high standards and expectations. Equally important is absolute commitment to arduous training, academic achievement, dedication to healthy life choices, and being humble, respectful, and kind-hearted. Good people will make good teams.

Thank you very much for your time Roger!  AJC

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Post Season Awards rolling in...

El Molino HS in need of a Track and Field Coach

El Molino High School is in need of a new Head Coach for Track and Field. Track and Field experience is required along with experience working with HS age students. Those interested should phone El Molino Athletic Director Mike Roan at (707) 824-6550 Ext. 8363 or email  mroan.ehs@wscuhsd.k12.ca.us

2014 NCS Distance State Meet Contenders

Here is what I have so far.  Remember only top 3 qualify to the CA state Track and Field meet unless you make the 2014 At-Large Time Standards.  Additions?  Changes?  Comments?

Girls 800m.
The favorite:  Madison Ricks California HS
Threats:  Heidi Fuhriman Monte Vista HS
Wildcards:  Suzanne Becker Albany HS, Chloe Jenkins St. Mary's Berkeley, Amihan Augustyn James Logan HS, Jasmine Penney San Lorenzo HS

Boys 800m.
The favorite:  Dante Hay Maria Carillo
Threats:  Connor McKinnon Amador Valley HS, Jose Lopez Arcata HS
Wildcards:  Owen Ljung Sonoma Valley HS, Christian Monsalud James Logan HS, Cody Mayer Liberty HS

Girls 1600m.
The favorite:  Megan McCandless Granada HS
Threats:  Spencer Moore St. Mary's Berkeley, Alexandra Hernandez Livermore HS
Wildcards:  Brooke Starn Monte Vista HS, Chloe Hansel Las Lomas HS, Christine Bayliss San Ramon Valley HS, Taylor Lawsen Granada HS, Anna Harleen Branson HS, Sophia Mills Piedmont HS, Delaney White Santa Rosa HS, Brighie Leach Campolindo HS

Boys 1600m.
The favorite:  Tyler Olson Livermore HS
Threats:  Trevor Reinhart Marin Academy HS, Michael Wang Acalanes HS
Wildcards:  Jason Intravaia San Ramon Valley HS, James Kinney Marin Academy HS, Zach Price Windsor HS, Fred Huxham Redwood HS

Girls 3200m.
The favorite:  Brighie Leach Campolindo HS
Threats:  Julia Maxwell Branson HS, Morgin Coonfield McKinleyville HS, Megan McCandless Granada HS
Wildcards:   Christine Bayliss San Ramon Valley HS, Molly Dicke Lick Wilmerding HS, Rachel Johnson Campolindo HS, Mary Orders Campolindo HS, Brooke Starn Monte Vista HS

Boys 3200m.
The favorite:  Aidan Goltra Campolindo HS
Threats:  Blair Hurlock De La Salle HS, Fred Huxham Redwood HS
Wildcards:  Gabe Arias-Sheridan St. Joseph Notre Dame HS, Ryan Anderson Maria Carrillo HS, Cameron Tu Alameda HS, Jackson Crose Livermore HS, Luke Williams De La Salle HS, Andrew Melendez Bishop O'Dowd HS, Cameron Gaskell Acalanes HS

Next:  2014 CCS Distance State Meet Contenders

Monday, December 16, 2013

Catching up with former Bella Vista HS star, Harold Kuphaldt...

Today we chat with former Bella Vista HS runner, Harold Kuphaldt (picture to the left courtesy of this link).  He graduated from high school in 1982 with PRs of 4:05.54c (1600m.) and 8:51.99 (3200m.).  He won the Sac-Joaquin Section cross country individual championship in 1981 when it was one division and pre-state meet.  Bella Vista HS won the SJS team XC championship in 1980 and 1981.   He finished in 2nd place at the Kinney National Meet when all the best runners raced each other to determine a true national champion.  He was also 2-time SJS champion in the 3200m. in 1981 and 1982.  In 1981 he followed his victory at the section meet with a 5th place at the CA state meet, running 8:54.78.   His senior year, Harold won the state 3200m. crown running his PR of 8:51.99 and outdistancing one of the legends in CA running, Camarillo HS runner, Eric Reynolds.  Harold continued his running career at the University of Oregon and ran for Olympic medalist, Bill Dellinger.  You can see some of his collegiate success below which included a sub 4 minute mile.  Harold has joined the coaching ranks at his old high school and will be inducted in the Sacramento Running Association Hall of Fame in January 25th.

1)  What sports did you play in your youth?  How did you get involved in running?
I did not do any other organized sports, other than running, and I didn't start running until I was 12 years old.  My sister Patty started running on the very first girls cross country team at Bella Vista high school in the fall of 1976.  I knew I had some talent for running based on my performance in the presidential physical fitness six minute run test in grade school, so, I decided to give it a try. I started training in January of 1977 with my sister and the girls at Bella Vista high school.

2)  When did you first realize that you were a pretty good runner?
My very first race was the California 10 (10 mile race) in Stockton California.   I believe that race is still run every year.  I was 4' 10" and 75 lbs and had been training for 8 days before the race.  I ended up beating my sister in the race and ran 69 minutes and some seconds.  Afterwards my sister's high school coach Ralph Blount told by mother that she should encourage me to keep running because he thought I had some talent.

3)  What were some of your high school highlights and proudest achievements in both XC and TF? 
Several accomplishments come to mind as my most memorable.  Topping the list would be:
1.  Winning the high school state 3200m title in California in 1982.
2.  Finishing second at the Kinney nationals (Now Footlocker nationals) in 1981.
3. Placing 6th in the Steeplechase in the 1984 NCAA Div I championships and helping my team win the NCAA team title in front of our home crowd.
4.  Running my first (and only) sub four minute mile at the Twilight meet in Eugene, OR in 1987.  Not necessarily in that order.

4)  Tell us a little about your high school coach and how he helped you develop as a runner.  What did you learn from him that you carry on to this day?
I was blessed to have an excellent high school cross country and track coach by the name of Dan Greenwald.  He coached at least six or seven runners who made the All Northern California teams for high school cross country.  I learned so much of the fundamentals of training distance runners from him including: periodization of training cycle and how to peak for the big meets.  He had a knack for recognizing when I was having an off day in training and changing the workout in such a way that I could have some success.  I definitely try to do that in my coaching today.  He was, and is, a good friend even to this very day.  He always tried to make running fun and I definitely try to incorporate that into my training plans today.

5)  How did you end up choosing the University of Oregon?  Tell us a little about your college experience.  Highlights and proudest achievements?
When I was running in junior high school I ran for a club called the Roseville Gazelles. One or two of my teammates followed the University of Oregon program very closely. They would bring articles about Alberto Salazar and Rudy Chapa to meets and tell me how they wanted to run for University of Oregon.  That planted the seeds for me that ultimately lead to my decision to attend University of Oregon.  Of course, my visit to University of Oregon and receiving a personal call from Alberto Salazar sealed the deal for me.

I absolutely loved my experience at University of Oregon. It is everything that you would imagine it would be to run in a stadium where the fans are incredibly knowledgeable and love just distance runners.  The first time I put on a University of Oregon singlet I literally had chills running down my spine thinking about the legacy at U of O, of which I was now a part.  The friendships that I made on the track and cross-country teams at University of Oregon I maintain to this day.  This past June I took my son Scotty to a University of Oregon track and field alumni reunion in Eugene while attending the NCAA championships in Eugene.  I was,once again, reminded of how cool it is to be part of the rich legacy that is University of Oregon.  I was able to meet and introduce to my son Ashton Eaton, Andrew Wheating, Terry Williams, Dave Taylor, Jim Hill, Pat Tyson and many many more including, of course, my coach Bill Dellinger.

As for the highlights of my running career at U of O, I already mentioned two big ones.  I would also add running in 6 NCAA championship meets (3 in Cross Country and 3 in track) and making All-American twice was pretty cool.  I am very proud to have won the "Emerald Award" as the outstanding senior scholar athlete at the University of Oregon in 1987.  But honestly, my best memories are of the many hours of training together with my friends and fellow warriors on the track and trails around Eugene and pushing our bodies to the limits just to see what we were capable of doing.  Finally I would say running in front of the Hayward Field crowd in Eugene is an experience I will never forget!

6)  Who was your coach at Oregon?  What did you learn from him?
My coach at University of Oregon was Bill Dellinger. He was/is a legend in the track and field world. He is an Olympic Bronze medalist in the 5000m in Tokyo in 1964 and coach of so many legendary distance runners.  I don't think I would make Bill's top 30 list of all the great distance runners he has coached.

I learned a lot from Bill.  First and foremost, there is no substitute for hard work!  He would say "You can't do anything in a race that you haven't prepared yourself for in practice".  We would try to take the components of a race that we wanted to work on ... Such as surging in the middle of a race when you are already feeling tired ... and simulate them in practice ... Only make it even harder than a race.  The famous 30th avenue drill at Oregon is an example of this training.  I definitely try to incorporate this philosophy in my current training plans.  I remind the kids why we are doing the workout, and what the main goal is for the workout.  I often will relate the workout to real race situations.

Bill Dellinger was a big believer in tempo runs and I definitely bought it to that approach.  I think you can gain a great deal of fitness with minimal risk of injury by incorporating regular (almost weekly) tempo runs into your training schedule.

7)  What is your current occupation?  How long have you been doing that?
I am a physical therapist currently working with Interim home care which is a home health agency. I have been a physical therapist since 1988.

8)  How did you get involved in coaching?  What is your current position at Bella Vista HS?  What are some of your biggest thrills in coaching?
My friend and former high school track teammate Dave Unterholzner has been the head track coach at Bella Vista HS for many years.   Ever since I moved back to the Fair Oaks area in 1996 he has been trying to get me to come and help with the distance program.  At the time my boys were very young and I was traveling a lot for my job.  Despite my love for coaching and for distance running I did not feel I could justify the time away from my family at that time.  Then, as my kids grew up and started to get into sports they gravitated towards soccer and baseball.   I began coaching both baseball and soccer to be involved with their activities. I loved coaching but, to be honest, I do not have the same passion for baseball and soccer as I do for running.  Then, when my oldest son Adam was a freshman at Bella Vista HS he surprised me by making the decision to start running cross country in the fall of 2008.  I decided to help out where I could.  My biggest frustration was seeing how small the distance program was at Bella Vista.  I think we only had about a dozen runners between both the boys and girls program in 2008.  Back in my days at Bella Vista and throughout the years that all my brothers and sisters ran at BV, the distance programs were strong on both girls and boys side.  It seemed to me that the program had taken a huge step backward.  In 2009 I agreed to help Brett Sargent (a teacher at Bella vista who had a son who was a good runner and a new freshman at BV)  take over the Boys cross country program.  I assisted Brett with track and cross country until last spring when Brett stepped down and I took over as the head of the boys distance program.  This fall was my first season as the head boys cross country coach at Bella Vista.  I also helped to recruit Melanie Cleland to take over the girls program in 2010.

My biggest thrills so far in coaching has been watching this program grow back into relevance again in the high school running scene.  This year I had 39 boys run cross country and we had about that many girls run this year as well.   That is approaching 80 athletes ... A long way from the 12 or so we had in 2008.  We are now competitive at all levels.  The Bella Vista boys cross country team made it to the State meet in 2010 and 2011 and just missed making it in both 2012 and 2013.  It was also really cool to coach the boys that broke one of my school records at BV HS (I shared with one of my brothers and two other boys) for the 4x1600m.

9)  What do you remember about your high school training?  Weekly mileage?  Distance of long run?  Workouts?
I wasn't very good at keeping training logs throughout my running career. As a coach now, I regret that.  I used to keep logs for short periods of time and then stop.  I have a few of these partial logs covering portions of my high school training.  Based on these partial logs and my recollections of my training I would say I ran between 50-60 miles per week in high school.  Lots of long intervals and hill repeats and very few, if any, tempo runs. My long runs were in the 10-12 mile range.  I would say my high school running career was characterized more by the quality of the work I did than the quantity.

10)  From your HS experience in the late 70s and early 80s to now, what do you say are the biggest differences that you see training wise? 
I will say today's coaches probably spend more time focused on running mechanics than the coaches in the 60's, 70's an early 80's.  Also, we use more dynamic warm-ups and active stretches, rather than static stretches in our warm-up routines.  I also think that there is more consistency between coaches than there used to be.  I believe that the ease at which information is shared between coaches in this information era is a big reason for this increased consistency.  It is much easier to gather "best practices" from the coaching community and this has reduced the number of programs with coaches that are really into bizarre and ineffective coaching methods.

11)  From your own coaching experience, what do you wish you could have done differently with your own training?  What about current runners?  What should they be doing that you did in HS but are not?
I wish I had kept better logs my running career.   I think keeping good records of what you do for your training and what results are produced is important.  It is pretty easy to distort your own memories about what you did and use that information to make poor judgements about future training plans.  I also think I could have benefited more from doing some tempo runs in high school.

I am a relatively new high school coach and certainly don't feel qualified to make to many judgements about what other coaches or athletes are doing.  I feel like I am still developing my own approaches and philosophies to high school coaching.

12)  Anything else you would like to add.
One thing I am passionate about is that you have to find a way to make it fun for the athletes.  This will not only attract more athletes and better athletes, but will keep them coming back year after to year.  This is the key to high school coaching in my opinion.

Thank you very much for your time Harold!  AJC

Here is a link posted by Hank Lawson that has video of the 1981 Kinney race (pre-Footlocker) which was won by current Los Altos HS coach Charles Alexander.  Kuphaldt finished in 2nd place.

The Student-Athlete in College by Doug Griffith

Sunday, December 15, 2013

NCS & CCS Girls help Buffalo Babes to 3 National Jr. Olympic Titles in San Antonio this past Sat.

Here's the link to the results Saturday of the National Jr. XC Olympics in San Antonio with the Buffalo Babes winning the team titles for at least 3 of the girls races ( 13-14 yrs, 15-16 yrs, & 17-18 yrs. ). Led by Davis' Sofia Castiglioni 3rd, assisted by  Santa Rosa 8th grader Rylee Bowen and  Julia Bounds of St. Francis in the Girls 13-14 year old category. In the Girls 15-16 race. CCS runner Lauren Jacobs was 1st. leading the Babes to another team title. In the girls 17-18, College Freshman and former great HS runner from Sacramento, Karlie Garcia's 1st place finish led the Babes to another team title assisted by NCS runner and CMC Champion for 3 straight years, Erin Thomas of Mendocino HS in 9th.

These are the area runners I picked up, I'm sure there are more.

Tom Benjamin
I provide photo coverage of HS XC to Jim Crowhurst's  Santa Rosa Press Democrat running blog and Linda Gill's Marin running blog "ranmarin"

My flickr page where all photos are available for download to anyone is :

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Catching up with former Murrieta Valley HS coach, Steve Chavez

Today we chat with former Murrieta Valley HS coach Steve Chavez.  He made his mark at the state cross country meet level in the 2000s with several top 5 finishes at the state meet by both his boys and girls teams.  His girls won the state championship in Division I in 2002 and followed that up with a runner-up finish the following season.  His boys teams made the podium in 2003 with a 3rd place finish and then returned back on the podium in 2007 with a 2nd place finish.  While Steve made a mark as a coach, his biggest impact at the state level may have been his clinics which were attended by many of today's top coaches including Arcadia's Jim O'Brien and Davis HS coach Bill Gregg.

1)  How did you get your start in running?  What were your primary sports/events?  Highlights in high school?
My father has always been my biggest influence athletically.  No matter what sports I did he always taught me how to run with proper form.  I gave up baseball in 7th grade to run track.  I was a 4-yr varsity letterman in track in HS, but I also earned varsity letters in soccer, football, and cross country.  I was primarily a 400m runner, although at some point I ran every event on the track (and even pole vaulted and threw the shot [only so we could win the fat man relay]).  My junior year I was 6th at the San Diego CIF Finals in the 400m.  I had one of best times in the section my senior year but pulled my hamstring anchoring the 400 relay at league finals, which effectively ended my HS running career.  Showing up on campus at UCLA with Steve Lewis and Danny Everett pretty much ended thoughts of a college running career.

2)  Who were the coaches that had the biggest impact on you personally during your time in athletics?  What did you learn from them?
As I stated above, my dad was always my biggest coaching influence.  I of course got my specific instruction from all of my individual coaches, but my dad instilled in me the need to always give your best and do everything possible to be the best you are capable of being.  He would never let me hear the end of it if I gave less than my best.

3)  What led you into teaching and coaching?
In both high school and college I worked with kids a lot so teaching was something I was naturally drawn to.  I worked in the beverage industry out of college for a couple of years, but my desire to coach pulled me to teaching as a career.  I actually thought I would coach football and track going in, but my first year at Murrieta Valley the XC coach stepped down so I reluctantly took over the program after spending the previous track season as the sprint coach making fun of the distance runners.  Oops.

4)  You have mentioned before that the two coaches that were the most influential to you as a coach were Dr. Joe Vigil and John Wooden.  Can you tell us a bit about the lessons that you learned from them that you carried over to your teaching and coaching.
As a UCLA alumnus John Wooden is a pretty important figure in my life.  I worked in campus security through college and would often be on “Coach Wooden Duty” for the basketball games.  Basically I would just make sure no one bothered Coach during the games.  At any of the breaks, however, he made time for everyone (especially kids) and was always gracious.  The chances I had to talk with Coach Wooden were a treasure.  He is one of those rare individuals who make you feel as if you can accomplish anything.  His Pyramid of Success is a model for me in coaching and in life. It’s very much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in that you have to take care of foundational character pieces if you ever want to reach the pinnacle of your abilities.  He taught me that coaching is a process and you can’t take short cuts. If you spend the time to develop individuals of character, the athletic parts come much more easily.

Coach Vigil is the most important figure for me as a distance coach.  He gave me an understanding of the physiology of running that spoke to both the science nerd in me as well as my logical/practical side.  I always want to do things the right way so how can you do that if you don’t know specifically how things work?  So it is with the human body.  Find out how it works and it’s easier to figure out how to train it.  Most importantly, he told me that knowledge is meant to be shared and gave me an admonishment not to horde what I do but rather give it freely.  I have always strived to do exactly that with anyone who was willing to listen.  Just as Coach Wooden makes you feel as if you can accomplish anything, Coach Vigil makes you feel as if you have no excuse not to accomplish those things.  After talking to him I always feel as if I should be taking on the world.

5)  You were a teacher/coach at Murrieta Valley HS.  When did you start there and what was the state of the track and field and cross country program when you started?
I began as Head Coach at Murrieta Valley Cross Country in 1996.  I was a long-term sub that year and then got hired full-time in Social Science the following year.  I continued as the sprint coach for the track team for another 4 years before finally taking distance over.  MV was only 4 years old at that point in time so the program had pretty typical results up until then.  The girls and boys teams had made CIF once each but had never made it to finals.  We were a solid 3rd or 4th place team in our league (Mountain View).

6)  What do you feel were the most important changes you made with your distance runners that elevated their level of performance?
Honestly I think the most important thing I brought to the table was the right attitude.  The longer I have coached the more I have realized that the most important thing is not what you say but how you say it; not your training program, but how you implement it; not your policies, but the manner in which you enforce them.  It’s hard work to become a great distance runner and it takes a lot of time and patience.  You can’t begin to do any of that without developing a positive relationship with the athletes, their parents, and your support staff.  I only had two requirements of my athletes. Give your best effort each day (whatever that may be) and have a positive attitude.  I held myself to the same standard.  I had confidence that if an athlete gave me those two things on a daily basis I could lead them to success.

7)  What were some of your proudest achievements by your teams and runners during your tenure at MV?
I am certainly proud of our State Championship in 2002, and also of consistently having both a boys and girls team that were capable of top 5 state finishes.  I am proud of individuals like Kellen Acosta, Liza Pasciuto, Patrick Milloy, Taryn Pastoor, and many others who gave so much to our program and represented our sport and our program with integrity and sportsmanship.  I am proud of the relationships we built within the running community with other coaches and teams.  Still, however, one of my proudest moments as a coach was when I had a girl named Jessica Collins finally break 7 minutes in the mile in her last high school race.  We had worked very hard to get her to reach that goal and she finished second to last in her race with a 6:45.  I don’t think anyone understood why we were both hugging each other and crying, but it still is one of the most special moments of my coaching career.  Jessica is now an attorney in the San Diego area.

8)  You have mentioned Dr. Vigil's training program.  What are the key components?
As I mentioned previously, the hallmark of Dr. Vigil’s training lies in the deep ties to physiology.  It is a scientific approach to the nuts and bolts of developing runners from the ground up.  The combination of aerobic conditioning, lactate threshold development, and VO2Max intervals, has become the standard for just about every training regimen in the world.  Whenever I read books or articles about training in the early 20th Century I always apply Coach Vigil’s findings and I can see where some of the “old time” coaches like Percy Cerutty were actually hitting some of these principles, but just not knowing exactly what they were or truly why they worked. The hallmark of our training from Coach Vigil has to be our Mile and 800 repeats.  We did these every week during the early through championship cycles of the season as the catalyst for increased intensity and forced adaptation and improvement.  I would never design a training program without these VO2 Max workouts.

9)  Besides training, there are other factors that must be present on successful teams.  From your own experiences, what are those factors?
Early in my coaching career my team got good very quickly without me really knowing how to handle it.  I faked it well, but deep down I knew I was in territory I was not prepared for.  This led me to study consistently successful programs and coaches to glean some insight into why they were successful.  What I learned was that in every instance there was a dynamic coach who held high standards that they did not waiver on.  The athletes all had complete trust in the coach and as such could be pushed harder than other teams.  These teams also had great confidence in and trust in each other.  Most importantly, they all set an expectation of excellence.  They never made excuses and always seemed to produce.  I have seen programs where every once in a while they will have a great team for a year or two and then fall out of the limelight.  Truly great teams may still have dips in performance, but will consistently perform at a level that is still higher than most.

10)  What are your current roles at Murrieta Mesa HS?  What has taken the place of the rush you got from coaching?
Nothing has replaced the rush I got from coaching, but I have taken on additional leadership responsibilities on campus.  Since stepping down from coaching I have been able to dedicate more time to my daughters (my oldest, Isabel, joined the XC team at her high school (Mission Hills in SD), I have traveled extensively, and finally got around to earning a Master’s degree.  I truly miss the every day gift that comes with coaching young people.  I do not miss practicing 6 days per week, 49 weeks per year however.  I am at a critical point in my career now where I need to decide whether to jump back into coaching (whatever that may look like) or move on to other professional endeavors.  Time and circumstances will tell.

11)  If you could be King of the World and could change anything about the current high school XC and TF scene, what would those changes include?
I think our sport is so amazing and pure I wouldn’t change anything about it.  If I could change anything though, it would have to be funding for athletics.  Coaches have so many restrictions placed on them for what they can charge and even how they can fundraise that it puts a tremendous limitation on things like building team identity.  It is very difficult to establish a sense of team pride when you can’t even mandate that every kid buy the same t-shirt.  So if I could I would make sure all athletic programs were fully funded so coaches could focus on developing kids.

12)  Anything else you would like add.
I feel so blessed to be a part of the sport of distance running.  I never would have dreamed that I would be as involved as I have been or achieved at the levels I have.  This sport has brought some amazing people in my life that have been and are important to my development as a person.  There is nothing greater than training regular kids into dominant forces on the course and track.  What an athlete gains through training is always theirs and theirs alone.  They dictate their own success or failure.  I love the purity of that.

Thank you very much for your time Steve!  AJC

Davis HS (SJS) at NXN newspaper coverage...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nathan Lynch: Marathon Man


Check out how Valley Christian SJ junior, Nathan Lynch, overcame cancer and ran CIM this past weekend to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The article is written by his coach, Josh Small.

Monday, December 09, 2013

2014 California Track and Field Schedule

Now that Cross Country is almost over, I thought it might be good to post some of the Invitational dates that I have for the 2014 Track and Field season.  If you are aware of other Invites and know the dates and pertinent information, please send those to me at albertjcaruana@gmail.com and I will add them to the list below.  Please remember that this is not a complete list and more events will be added.

1/18 Cal All-Comers at Berkeley (NorCal)

2/8 Olympian Track and Field Clinic at James Logan HS (Dedicated to Berny Wagner)
2/8 Cal All-Comers at Berkeley (NorCal)
2/22 Skyline Invitational at Skyline HS (OAK)
2/22 Cal All-Comers at Berkeley (NorCal)
2/28 Winter Time Trials at Watsonville  HS (CCS)

3/1 Dan Gabor Invitational at Amador Valley HS (NorCal)
3/1 Mt. Pleasant Relays at Mt. Pleasant HS (CCS)
3/1 Capital Classic Relays at Elk Grove/Laguna Stadium (SJS)
3/1 Dean Andreesen Classic at Livingston HS (SJS)
3/1 Big Cat Invitational at Santa Rosa HS (NCS)
3/1 Santa Cruz Coast Relays hosted by Aptos HS (CCS)
3/1 North Salinas Time Trials at North Salinas HS (CCS)
3/1 Willow Glen T&F Invitational at Willow Glen HS (CCS)
3/8 14th Annual San Rafael Twilight Relays at San Rafael HS (NCS)
3/8 East Bay Invitational at California HS (NCS)
3/8 Newark Memorial Invitational at Newark Memorial HS (NCS)
3/8 Port City Invitational at Bear Creek HS (SJS)
3/8 Windsor Relays at Windsor HS (NCS)
3/8 Bellarmine-Kiwanis Invitational T&F Classic hosted by Bellarmine (CCS)
3/8 Wildcat Relays at Watsonville HS (CCS)
3/15 Dublin Distance Fiesta at Dublin HS (NorCal)
3/15 30th Annual St. Francis Invitational at St. Francis HS (CCS)
3/15 Martinez/Tim Bruder Relays at Alhambra HS (NCS)
3/15 Welton "Moe" Moore Relays at TBA (SJS)
3/15 Panther Relays at McKinleyville HS (NCS)
3/15 Viking Relays at Montgomery HS (NCS)
3/15 Freshman Focus T&F Invite at North Salinas HS (CCS)
3/21 Bay Area Relays at Foothill HS (NCS)
3/22 Husky Invitational at Sheldon HS (SJS)
3/22 Jaguar Relays at Kimball HS (SJS)
3/22 San Leandro Invitational at Burrell Field (NCS)
3/22 Garlic Classic Track Invitational hosted by Christopher HS (CCS)
3/22 Cupertino/De Anza HS Invitational at De Anza College (CCS)
3/22 Serra Throwers Meet at CSM (CCS)
3/28 CCS F/S Track Classic at Los Gatos HS (CCS) New Date
3/28 Bronco Roundup Distance Carnival at Bella Vista HS (SJS)
3/28/29 Castro Valley HS Trojan Relays at Castro Valley HS (NCS)
3/29 Firebird Relays hosted by Fremont HS (CCS)
3/29 Avis Kelley Invitational at Gilroy HS (CCS)
3/29 San Lorenzo Valley Track Invite hosted by SLV (CCS) pending
3/29 Logan Field Event Meet at James Logan HS (NCS)

4/4 Cougar CoEd Relays at El Dorado HS (SJS) Email "Peanut" Harms at nutboy51@yahoo.com
4/4/5 Stanford Invitational at Stanford University (Statewide)
4/5 North Salinas Invitational & Relays hosted by North Salinas HS (CCS) New Date
4/5 Don Bell Quick Silver Classic at Leland HS (CCS)
4/11 1st Annual Santa Rosa Twilight Invitational at Santa Rosa JC (NCS)
4/11/12 Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia HS (Statewide)
4/12 King City Invitational hosted by King City HS (CCS)
4/12 Pacific Grove Rotary Invitational hosted by Pacific Grove HS (CCS)
4/15 Easter Classic hosted by Everett Alvarez HS (CCS)
4/18 CCS Top 8 Track Classic at SJCC (CCS) New Date
4/18/19 Mt. SAC Invitational at Mt. SAC (Statewide)
4/19 4th Annual Bearcats Invitational at San Mateo HS (CCS)
4/19 Bill Kearney T&F Invitational hosted by Salinas HS (CCS)
4/26 Serra Top 7 Invitational at Serra HS (CCS) New Date
4/26 James Logan Invitational (formerly Top 8) at James Logan HS (NCS)
4/26 Northern California Frosh Soph Championships at Dublin HS (NorCal)
4/26 46th Annual Rotary T & F Invitational at Pacific Grove HS (CCS)
4/26 25th Annual Viking Track Classic at Montgomery HS (NCS)
4/26 Bella Vista Bronco Invitational at Bella Vista HS (SJS)
4/26 Glen Poole Invitational at Oakmont HS (SJS)
4/26 Mudville Invitational at Bear Creek HS (SJS)
4/26 Alisal Invitational hosted by Alisal HS (CCS)

5/2 Charlie Eaton/Bob Warren Relays at Acalanes HS (NCS)
5/2 Sheldon Distance Carnival at Sheldon HS (SJS)
5/3 Sacramento Meet of Champions at TBA (NorCal)
5/9 Folsom/Del Campo Distance Carnival at Folsom HS (SJS)
5/9 Gold Rush Invitational at Calaveras HS (SJS)
5/24 CCS Semifinal at San Jose City College (CCS)
5/30 CCS Final at San Jose City College (CCS)

6/6/7 CIF State Championship Meet at Buchanan HS (Statewide)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Longtime Palma athletic director Steve Clayton dies

Some more sad news for the Track and Field community as Palma AD (2012 CIF Athletic Director of the Year) and former Track and Field coach passes away.

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