Titans’ Cross Country Team Making A Run For State
Sep 29, 2016 04:12PM ● Published by Sarah Almond
Several members of the Titans girls team crest a hill at the BYU Invitational on Sept. 3. Head Coach Todd Mitchell says this is the strongest the girls team has ever been. (Todd Mitchell/Head Coach)
Gallery: Titans’ Cross Country Team Making A Run For State [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Sarah Almond | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the beginning of June, the Olympus High School cross-country team has been running dozens of miles each week to train and prepare for their challenging 2016 season.
“We had a 300-mile club and a 500-mile club for June, July and August,” Head Coach Todd Mitchell said. “And we’ve had a bunch of athletes who have met those goals. Then, during the season, and depending on how new the athlete is to running, the kids are putting in anywhere from 20 to 60 miles per week.”
The group of 56 has welcomed around 20 new runners to the team this year, many of whom are upperclassmen.
“For whatever reason we seem to always have a lot of kids who join their junior or senior year,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got kids who come over from soccer or other sports, so we have a lot of new kids but then we also have 23 seniors. I think that helps a bit, though, because a lot of the new kids who come out have a sports background.”
Mitchell believes this pattern of welcoming new, older runners to the team ultimately benefits the Titans, especially when combined with the experience of runners who have been on the team for several years.
“Having kids with diverse sports backgrounds and also having students that have been with the program three or four years gives us a lot of good leadership,” Mitchell says.
The Titans’ remarkably large group of upperclassmen also highlights one of the challenges Mitchell faces year after year; appealing to and retaining freshman runners.
“We have three freshmen girls and three freshmen boys, so our whole freshman class is only six kids versus 23 seniors,” Mitchell said. “So it would definitely be beneficial if we could find a way to get more underclassmen running.”
Despite the differences in class, the Titans’ cross-country team is pretty evenly split between boys and girls, with 29 runners on the boys team and 27 on the girls.
“Our girls team is much deeper than we’ve ever been, which is a definite strength,” Mitchell said. “We probably have 12 girls that could run varsity against any of the other teams.”
In cross-country, the varsity team includes the seven fastest runners of the group.
“Our team has never been this strong for the girls,” Mitchell said. “For the boys, we have three really strong front runners and are trying to find our fourth and fifth guys right now.”
With a less than a month until the region championship, both the girls and boys teams now have their sights set on one of their biggest goals: to qualify for the state meet on Oct. 19. The Titan boys are training hard to defend their title as region champions and the girls are hoping to also bring the championship title back to Olympus.
“We’re really hoping to have a chance to win it.” Mitchell said. “The boys were also third in state last year, so they’d like to improve on that. The girls were seventh last year and so this year their goal is top five.”
Mitchell says that because the team has continued to improve with each race this season, he thinks these goals are both attainable and realistic.
“As long as we keep improving I think we have a shot at doing really well,” Mitchell said. “If they can continue their trajectory, they will be right where they need to be.”
The Titans will compete in the region championship at the Cottonwood Complex on Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m. To qualify for the state meet on Oct. 19, the Olympus girls and boys must be one of the top four teams to finish.