1. How long have you been a coach? How many of those years have been at your current school?
This is year 10. All have been at Wayzata, but this is only my third year as the head coach. Right out of college, I started teaching at Wayzata and was a volunteer assistant in the fall and spring.
2. What is your meet schedule this fall?
You can check our website, Wayzata-xc.com. Our top five or six varsity guys will race three 5K [races] in September, three in October, and two in November (assuming we qualify for state). NXN would make nine on the season if we qualify.
3. How has summer training gone for your team? What do you focus on during the summer months?
Summer was great. Our track season runs pretty late, so guys didn't really start their base mileage in earnest until late June. By the end of July, the higher mileage guys were ready for a string of 60-mile weeks. Our summer mostly focuses on base mileage, but we also had six weeks of weight training, the occasional hill workout, and a few threshold workouts or tempo runs.
4. Which athletes do you see as the probable top five this season?
The only absolute lock for top-five is Khalid Hussein. After that, we have six other guys with 3200 PRs between 9:30 and 9:42. And none of the three in the 9:40's ran a 3200 this spring after April. Grant Matthews (12) is a guy who likes to get out and push during races; Blake Buysse does a lot of work in the last 1600 to pull people with (12); Grant Price (11) is probably a guy that will look to help push the pace for our pack; Andrew Brandt (11) is going to be a guy that surprises some people with his strength; Mitch Tolander (12) was our number two guy at times last year; Anders Sonnesyn (12) has as much talent as anybody; and our Zach Miller (11) has a 9:55 3200 PR, but has really improved in the last 12 months. It could be any of those guys, and we would be in a great position.
5. Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
Our varsity is so focused and excited that they lead collectively, and the younger guys learn from them. We also have a number of seniors who our leaders for the JV side of our program, which is even more important in creating and maintaining a winning culture.
6. Who are some new faces who will make an impact on your team this year (i.e. freshmen, transfers, runners who have improved a lot)?
We are a veteran team, and I just don't see anyone making that leap from the 9th or 10th grade classes. There are a few talented low-mileage guys (Cam Arkesteyn, Patrick Leonard, Frank Fetrow) who, if they can stay healthy and string some good weeks together, could be in the mix at the end of the year.
7. What are some staple workouts your team does during the season?
We have a 900m progressive interval workout that we get back to a few times. I also enjoy a 60-30 fartlek workout that we use toward the end of the season. But the most consistent element in our training is the long run and threshold work.
8. What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?
Culture, talent, experience, desire. Our veteran team knows what it is to race in big meets. They had a great year last year through November, and had a somewhat disappointing outing at NXN. I think that will serve as fuel this year and keep them hungry.
9. What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?
As always, staying healthy is a big challenge for distance runners. We do a lot to be proactive with our strength training and general approach to injuries. For me, it is going to be challenging our guys on a weekly basis in a way that keeps them from growing complacent. We need to be able to keep the end performance goal in mind at all times.
10. How would you describe your team's culture?
We try to do a lot to bring our large (165+ grades 7-12) team together as a whole. It's important that these guys get to know each other, care about each other, because that makes everyone invested in the team. When that happens, it means that as a group we are doing things that make each other better every day. That starts with our coaches and our upperclassmen, and then it trickles down through the lower grades and various training groups. When we are successful in that regard, it makes our high levels of accountability and expectations easy to maintain.
11. What are your top three goals for the team this fall?
Our goals do not really change based on the given season. Competitively, we want to improve on our performances last year. If we can be successful with our team goals, that will likely happen.
-Stay healthy: nutrition, strength, recovery.
-Stay focused on doing things in the right way.
-Have fun running for each other.