Chris Harder has high expectations for Irish runners
Cross country is a sport that usually requires a lot of off-season work to be successful. Are your returning runners on any kind of summer training program? What are they doing to get ready for the season?
Our runners participate in the Rosemount Distance Project, our off-season training program. We have different levels for the athletes depending on their chronological and training age. We also encourage and support multi-sport athletes, so some of our members are part of other school training programs as well. Over the years we have athletes from nearly every winter and spring sport participate in cross country.
On the first day of practice Monday there figures to be runners with a wide variety of skill levels coming together. What kind of workout is on the agenda? The same for everyone or will more experienced runners have a more grueling workout?
We have a general framework that applies to everyone in our program, but we have different workout groups depending on their current fitness level for 5k (boys) and 4k (girls) cross country. During the season, athletes get moved into the group that fits them the best. We really try to encourage and improve all of our cross country members. Different athletes have different goals and reasons for being out for cross country. We try to have our workouts meet the different needs while trying to field competitive teams.
With Nathan Rock, Chandler Dye, Trevor Capra and Calvin Lehn, you have a strong nucleus coming back from last year's third-place state team. What are your expectations from these varsity veterans?
My expectations for the boys team is very similar to their expectations. We expect to be competitive at the conference, section, state, and regional levels. Those four guys were on our state podium team last year, but we have a number of other guys that have worked hard to put themselves in position for the team to be competitive again this season. We had an excellent track season combining with a state caliber football program and a nice mixture of other sports to win the true team title. Our team is doing the work this summer individually and collectively.
Who are some other runners you expect to compete for spots in the varsity lineup?
Some of the seniors that are in the mix are Tyler Blumke, Joe Carlson, Nick Couillard, Ryan Gould, and Timothy Sampers. There are some young guys who could be in the mix by the end of the season as well. There are always a few surprises every season, so you never know what will shake out by the championship portion of the season.
On the girls side, Grund, Grim, Rambo and Dennis return after a second straight appearance at the state meet. What will it take for the girls to make a third trip to St. Olaf?
The girls need to keep their consistency in training and stay healthy. We have a solid core with a few younger runners that could bolster the line-up. We will certainly be competitive at the conference, section, and state level. The girls have a strong work ethic and positive attitude. They are a fun group, but are serious about their goals individually and as a team.
Who are some other runners who might have the potential to make a varsity impact this year for the girls?
A number of girls could make an impact. Senior Emily Davis was injured the second half of last season. She was on our state meet team, but was unable to compete. Senior Thana Hussein competed at the state meet. She has shown steady improvement throughout her career. Thana was part of the school record 4x400 relay last spring. Senior Chloe Schurb and junior Taybri Irving are hard workers that could also be in the mix. They have been mostly JV runners in their career, but are on the brink of the varsity team. Like the boys, there are surprises every year, so we look forward to what this season will bring.
Both teams have achieved a lot at the conference, section and state level the last few years. What are some of the program's goals for this season?
Our goal is always to perform at the highest level possible at the end of the season for all of our members. We want to run 5000 meters (boys) and 4000 meters (girls) the best we can in late October and early November.