August 22, 2012

Inspiration, determination drives Cross Country team

By Olivia Sundeen    
Farmer Staff Writer

After watching endless hours of Olympian victories, Greg Brown, Watford City Wolves’ head cross country coach, couldn’t help but be inspired.
The first day of practice started with a quote from Michael Phelps, “I deserved what I got. I didn’t work hard enough...” Coach Brown used an Olympian’s confession to inspire his runners to train for what they want now and enjoy the results later.
After a more than successful season in 2011, Coach Brown’s mind-set coming into the 2012 season is full of determination.
“What can we do as a team and as individuals to become better?” questions Brown. “Yes, the girls placed second as a team last year, but every year I go into the season trying to figure out how we can improve.”
This year a whopping 14 boys have gone out for cross country, along with eight girls.
“The number of boys’ out is shocking,” stated Brown. “It looks like I am going to have to hit the hallways harder to recruit some more girls.”
With numbers on the boys’ side, Brown hopes to see improvement.
“We placed ninth in state as a team,” stated Brown. “This year our goal is to place higher than ninth and looking at the team makeup, I would also like to see at least three runners break into the top 50 in State.”
The boys will be competing without their top finisher, John Meuchel from last year. Nonetheless, Brown is confident of the team’s potential.
“We will be looking at Guy Ross to be the first one across the line for us” stated Brown. “He is returning and has shown some good speed in practice so far this season. He is also our only senior on the boys’ side and will be looked at as a leader.”
Other runners returning are Logan Gumke, Ted Ramage and Dustin Kleppen. According to Brown, these  three have a good work ethic and will push the team to become better.
The returning Junior High runners are Devin Schmitz and Hunter DeFoe. Brown also commented on their work ethic, while stating, “They will push the varsity to become better. With their determination, you never know what could happen.”
Rounding out the boys’ team are the newcomers, Michael Brown, Cole McGorman, Braedon Gumke, Cale Bandelin, Dakota Garmann, Josh Segneri and Greg Kleppen.
“The newcomers are working very hard,” stated Brown. “Some of the young guys are up and pushing the returning runners.”
Even though there seems to be a low number of girls out, they make up for it in talent.
Returning second place State finisher, Asha Smith, will be looked at to carry a heavy load for the girls’ team.
“She is very talented and has great drive,” stated Brown.
In addition to Smith, Addison Sundeen and Lea Arndt are returning top 50 State finishers from last year. Brown believes that with hard work and dedication they should move up.
“I am also looking at Sundeen to pick up a leadership position for the girls,” stated Brown. “Mostly because she is not afraid to tell me as a coach the way the team is feeling.”  
Other returners, Kara Wold, and senior, Tara Loomer, came into this season looking “really good and running hard.”
The ones new to the cross country scene are seniors, McKayla Haugeberg and Katie Skarda, as well as Hayley Moe. Brown is excited to see what lies ahead for these competitive athletes.
After a close race that resulted in a second place finish at State for the girls’ team, Brown hopes this year could result in a win. But graduation did put a kink in the girls’ lineup with the loss of Kade Ross, a top eight finisher at State, and Bessie Schmitz, the fifth runner for the girls’ team.
In spite of that, Brown’s goal is for the team to finish in the top five at State.
“Individually, the pressure is on Smith,” stated Brown. “She is one of the best runners in the state and should vie for the top spot at State. As long as I don’t get too crazy and cause injuries, she should be able to compete well.”
Brown has lofty goals for the rest of the boys and girls as well.
“I would like them to improve on their finishes compared to the state meet last year,” stated Brown. “Moving up just a couple of spots will help in the team score. My goal is always to try to get as many All State runners as possible. And with work, many will be able to start eyeing those positions.”
To make these goals achievable, it all comes down to motivation, determination, and of course, training. Brown notes that training techniques are always changing due to the different athletes, different types of conditions and so forth.
“I do like the training we did last year,” stated Brown. “We do need to add some speed work, strength training and ab workouts.”
An average week for these runners includes three days of running longer miles and two days working on speed and repeat training. But this year, Brown will put the track to good use, in an attempt to fill the lack of speed.
“I still struggle on pushing the athletes to run more mileage,” stated Brown. “I do see in other programs that the more mileage the better they do. Last year, we averaged less than 30 miles per week. Who knows, we might hit 35 miles per week this year, but we don’t want to battle overuse injuries if the runners aren’t used to such mile numbers.”
All in all, time and training will be the ticket to making a mark at the State Cross Country Meet.
“It is very exciting to be working with both the boys’ and girls’ groups,” stated Brown, “because as hard as they are working, only good things can happen.”