High school cross country is a sacred tradition in much of this country. My first race was on September 12, 1972, at DeSmet High school, where I ran a freshman race over two miles. Paul Heck, the soon to be Missouri State Champion, ran 10:01.5 over the tough, two mile course that skirted the borders of the De Smet campus. (Paul Heck went on 8:47 for the steeple and a 2:22 over the marathon, I think he went to Penn State). All of the frosh thought Heck was a god, and he was. But, he was also accessible and very helpful and patient with the frosh. I ran two miles that day, near the back of the pack and lost a shoe with about two hundred meters to go. My shoes cost $4 at K-Mart, a knock off of a Converse sneaker. The shoes were white, but the blood from my two weeks of running and loosing much of my toe flesh, had turned them almost red.
38 years later, cross country is still one of my favorite sports. I miss coaching with my buddy, Joe Mangan, who I coached with from 1990-1996 at Foothill college, and Terry Ward, who had me cracking up, from 1977-1982. I am enjoying it from afar as Dave Frank, Coach at Central Catholic, sent out his newsletter on his teams race in the rain in Portland, Oregon.
Frank is a former Stanford standout, an 8:38 steepler, and one of the best coaches that I have ever met. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his sense of humor, well, kept most of us in stitches when he joined us for workouts in the early 90s at the Stanford golf course. I have got to watch Frankie with his son, Jackson, who tolerated me driving with him and his father to Indy for the nationals a few years back.
Read Frankie’s missive on the race. Close your eyes and remember your cross country past, but Dave exemplifies the devotion and love of the sport that the 16,000 high school cross country coaches out there should use as an example. Then, go on a walk, or run, tonight!
Sept 30, 2004. That’s the last day Central Catholic lost a Mount Hood Conference cross country meet.
Almost six years later the Reynolds Raiders were primed to break “the streak”. The Raiders came into the meet ranked #7 in Oregon, just a couple of notches below the 5th ranked Rams. Their
leader – and defending MHC District Champ – Bekama Jaldi would be
running his first race of the year, presumably at 100% health. Without Jaldi, they had narrowly lost to CC the previous week in the MHC/TRL Crossover Meet. Reynolds was good, they were on their home course, and they were confident.
During those last six years the Rams have rarely had to race “all out” to keep the streak alive; today would be different. The
men of Central were battling some inconsistent performances and the
loss of #2 man WASIL AHMED ’11 to a communication breakdown. On
paper the Rams expected to beat the Raiders at the #1 spot with ANDY
BENNISON, but the Reynolds boys looked to have the edge at #2 – #5.
previous years the Ram men have run conservatively on Wednesdays with
eyes on the bigger prizes of invitational meets and, ultimately, the
State Meet in November. It was likely that Reynolds
expected a similar tactic on this day, but, with the streak on the
line, your Rams ran anything but conservatively.
At the gun Bennison, GREG CRUZ ’11, and KYLE THOMPSON ’14 went straight to the front. (It
should be noted that there were four other teams in the race, but none
of them would have an impact on the dual meet between Reynolds &
CC.) TREVOR SCHMIDT ’13 and IAN FOUTS ’11 both were ahead of Reynolds’ #4 man at 1km while ZACH TEENY ’11 shadowed #5. At
the mile mark the Rams – uncharacteristically – held a solid lead in
spots 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, but those present knew that the Raiders would not
go down without fight over the next eleven minutes.
further solidifying his status as one of the state’s elite runners,
pushed the pace up front as his gap over Reynolds’ top two continued to
increase. Frosh Thompson – growing into a man before our
very eyes – was hammering close behind his senior teammate – and well
ahead of Reynolds’ #1 man. Cruz, showing the same passion
and aggression from his phenomenal State Meet run of ’09, was taking it
to the Raiders’ #3 – and mixing it up with a group of outstanding
runners from the TRL. Schmidt – although clearly not in the shape he’d like to be at this point in the season – was running possessed, dead even
with Reynolds’ #3 at two miles. Fouts,
too, was running the finest race of his career – and certainly the most
important to this date – still ahead of his #5 opponent.
half a mile to run the Rams were clearly the winners – although a game
effort by Reynolds’ #4 & #5 made the score a bit closer in the
final count. On a course 20 – 30 seconds slower than Saturday’s race, four of the Rams’ top five had run faster here, led by Thompson’s 16:24 (just behind Bennison’s 16:20) and Cruz’ 16:51. Thompson’s
job, as outlined the previous day, was to beat their #3 runner;
instead, he took down their #1, with #3 forty seconds in Kyle’s
Others, too, had run well for the Rams. Teeny,
sophs ANDREW GREEN, RYAN MYERS, and JORDAN LANDSTROM, and junior KEVIN
MATHENY all were within 15-25 seconds of their PR on a slower course. Additionally,
the enthusiasm and aggressiveness they showed gave the others both a
shot in the arm and a safety net; knowing that these runners were
backing them up gave Schmidt and Fouts, in particular, license to be
aggressive – and it clearly paid off.
In the junior varsity races, the Rams acquitted themselves well. DANTE DALLA GASPERINA ’14 continued his improvement with a PR (18:54) here (5th place), while classmate GABE KEARNS ran 19:37 in his first 5000m effort (10th). ADAM HALDEMAN ’13 also made his first attempt over the longer distance count, finishing 31st in the 112 man JV field.
In the Novice race frosh JEFFREY VINSON and TOM HOANG made their debuts for the Rams, with Vinson finishing 5th. Classmate BRANDON TESTER had his best of the young season for the Rams.
Saturday the squad will travel to Portland Meadows Race Track for the Nike Pre-Nationals (formerly the Jim Danner Invite). As usual, schedules and full results can be found at:
while photos can be viewed here:
Hope to see you somewhere soon!
Central Catholic High School
Founded in 1939 “Where intellect and spirit are nurtured in a diverse community.”