Sunday, December 3, 2017

Big questions for Track and Field for 2018...

Track and Field has begun.....

Yes...we are up and going for our Indoor Track and Field season...really the first of its kind in our school history. On November 30th at Colorado School of Mines we had five enterprising student-athletes take part in our first club Indoor competition of the year. 

We are super excited to see this level of interest and excitement for our sport. To have the effort to improve that we have seen already for Track and Field has been really impressive and has not gone unnoticed. Coach Gysin has been working extremely hard to bring about a new culture of Track and Field in our school.  So far so good as we have seen some great effort already by the student -athletes who have been coming to practice.

With Cross Country 2017 in the rearview mirror and Track and Field 2018 now ahead of us, we can start to look at what are the big questions to consider going forward.

Dimy Dobrev
What impact will Indoor season have on Outdoor Season?

Training will always give you a chance to improve. Getting to compete a little and work on technique and mental focus should also have an impact. Outside of distance events, all other events sprinting, jumping, throwing should see huge gains from being a part of the indoor season. The schedule and information for Indoor meets can be found by clicking on the link here:


Along with these meets, Coach Gysin has instituted some general testing throughout the winter to gauge progress.

How big of an impact will our Freshman girls make?

We have exciting and impactful young ladies in our midst. The Chloe's...Piegat and Meehan are bringing a ton of experience and competitive fire to our team in the sprints. Savannah Jones is an athletic young lady, currently playing basketball for our Lady Eagles, what potential does she hold for us? What other freshman from other sports will come out in the spring and help us build something special this year? By many accounts and rumors we have a lot of impactful freshman girls considering and or planning to be a part of our team in the spring.

How will Hayes, Mossbrucker, Wilkerson and Iarusso build on their previous year performances?

Certainly Indoor Track will be a big part of this, but these four girls along with some others I am about to mention are the core of our returning ladies with on paper potential to score at the League meet. They are an really really great group and with some hard work matched with their talent, they will be huge part of our team success this year.

Maya Nefs and Sydney Hoffman....???

These two are multi sport ladies who we shared in the spring with Hockey (Maya) and Lacrosse (Sydney) in 2017. They are very talented and if we can get them just a bit more somehow in 2018 it will be really fun to see what they can accomplish this year. Maya made the state meet last season in the 400m and will have opportunity to re write our record book should she be healthy and fit (see below). Sydney has a lot of potential to help Maya and company break some relay records and score well for us at league.

What if we get our basketball ladies throwing the discus? and  some others throwing the shot?

Really good athletes from basketball have been known to show some ability in the discus, I simply think it would be an interesting experiment to have Alexa, Skylar and Savanah use the athleticism they have to see if they can have an impact in the throws. Sydney Hoffman is another athletic young lady that might be able to come in and get another event for us by throwing the shot or disc. Throwing is about speed and athleticism and we need to get more of our kids trying it to see if it becomes another event for them to do in meets that will help us score a bit more points.

Can a thrower breakthrough?

We have not seen much of Jack Pool over the last few months, but knowing he spent a little time working on his craft with coach Amy this summer, he is a big part of this question being answered. Jack has potential to get to a number 3 all time Dakota Ridge performance in the Discus this year. He threw 123-1 last year and only needs a 15 foot PR to get into that #3 spot in Dakota Ridge history. Very do able for Jack. Kyle Cannon is a sophomore now and carries a TON of potential in the Discus as well. His growth and improvement might be the difference for us at the League meet. What if Kyle and Jack can get us points in the Discus this year at league? That could prove huge to us. Equally as intriguing is our other sophomores Izaak McWilliams, Ethan Gough and Joe Carlson. All of these guys had strong freshman years and each carries their own degree of talent and desire. While I have heard rumors of a couple of these guys not coming out for Track and Field, certainly we will hopefully see them. They are really really great kids and we would love to have them out throwing for us.... Speaking of getting out for the team this spring...

On the boys side...Where will we get some student-athletes?

 Emmanuel Mwinbong gave use a spark in 2016
In an incredibly competitive spring sports environment where will we find some guys who will score points for us at the League meet and or have a chance to make the State meet? With Rugby, Lacrosse, baseball, club soccer and spring football... its become a divided and fractured spring season year in year out. Over the last few years...we have the biggest impact for our team from the multi-sport athlete who is taking part in a couple different sports in the spring. Cale Ferrin (4th in State High Jump 2016) and Nick Cohn, (school record holder in 100m and 4th in State 100m 2015) both football players have had recent big time success in Track and Field. In addition we have had some very nice success with Soccer players. Dimy Dobrev is our current soccer to Track and Field success story and we have had others...Chris Taylor and Emmanuel Mwinbong recent graduates come to mind. Regardless of what others will say about our program, I can only make this appeal...We will honor your work in other sports as long as we can get commitment to help us when it matters most at league and state should any student-athlete qualify. Track Field offers a unique experience where low impact but steady training and competing can be a huge benefit to your athleticism. If you are reading this and interested in what we have to offer come talk to us at pre-season practice this winter.

How many Boys will break 5 minutes in the 1600m and 11 minutes in the 3200m? 

We have the best boys distance TEAM in school history this year. Last year we had 10 guys break 5 in the 1600m... and 9 break 11 in 3200m It is conceivable we get 12-13 for both events this year if we get a good winter of training.

How many Girls will break 6 minutes in 1600m and 13 minutes in 3200m?

It will be fun for our girls team to chase these marks...last year we had 4 break 13 minutes in 3200m and had 4 break 6 in the 1600m...but we have a lot of returners who ranged from 6:00-6:15 in the 1600m and you add some freshman distance ladies in the mix and we will shatter last years numbers in this these events for sure.

What School Records will fall this year? Here are some possibilities... 

 Boys 300m Hurdles---Dimy Dobrev will most certainly have a wonderful chance to best the 300m Hurdle mark this year. Currently standing at 40.7 by Steve Oman. Dimy ran 42.29 for #2 on All time Dakota Ridge list last year and is already hard at work getting fit during indoor season. An outside shot to break 40 seconds and the school record in the 300H might belong to Eli Harding. Training hard already and possessing some talent, if this guy gets aggressive and goes for it, I could see him pulling this off. 

Girls Pole Vault...The record is "soft" at 8'1 because we simply have not had many young ladies try to do Pole Vault. Should we get an enterprising and committed student-athlete to do Pole Vault it won't take but a few weeks of practice before this one could be broken.

Girls High Jump...5-2 is the current record  co owned by Olivia Landers and Aliesha Shafer, but don't forget about Alexa Buchli having a shot at this in 2018. Alexa is a very good student-athlete. Quietly last year she went 4-10 for us and that was good enough to get on the All-time list. I believe in her and I think if we can get her training with some plyos and some technique work right after basketball is over she is good enough to have a chance at this.

 Girls 400m---Our current assumption is Maya Nefs will return for a senior year of Track for us. She plays a great game of Ice Hockey and that takes a little of her time but she is an incredible talent and should have a great chance if healthy, to set a new 400m school record. Set by Cayli Hume at 58.39 in 2016, Maya was tantalizing close with a 58.49 last year. Along with Maya, there is every bit of possibility that we have a freshman who will bring some talented fight to this record. It's been awhile since we have had a  100m-200m-400m freshman talent that will have a chance to make some Dakota Ridge history. I feel like we are due for this type of sprint girl.

Girls 200m---See above... Sarah Johns is the current record holder at 26.47 and again Maya was reasonably close last year with a 27.11. She didn't run many 200m last year, but should she get a few more opportunities she may very well get this one as well.

Girls 100m---Current record holder from 1998...yes...before you were born 1998 is Heather Niccoli at 12.5. Maya once again is the one to watch. Should she get a little more opportunity here I think she might have an outside shot late in the season. She ran 12.82 last year.

Girls Relays...4x200m and Sprint Med....With Maya healthy and competing in a few events late in the year I could see us putting together a team with a chance to break a current relay record. There is A LOT that will be determined over the next six months with this but I think its possible we start to see this coming together as a possibility by mid March. Once we see what our freshman class and or any first time Track and Field kids can do for us we will know for sure if this will be possible.

Girls 1600m...Michelle Renner will chase one of the most difficult records to break on our books. Alexa Rogers owns an epic 5:02.05 1600m record. Michelle will attempt to break this and be the first girl in our history under 5 minutes for a mile. Last year Michelle got down to 5:08.58 setting her up for a chance to do something incredibly special in our program history.

Believe it or not...Boys 1600m and Boys 3200m....Evan Appel 4:15.81 for 1600m and Evan Appel 9:07.82....This one is a gut feeling and on paper looks to be a little bit of a longer shot here. I totally acknowledge difficulty here as Evan's 3200m alone is in the Top 5 in COLORADO history...  However...Both Austin Vancil and Connor Ohlson will have an opportunity here should they have a great winter training cycle. Their fitness is far improved over the last few months. We didn't "run the rails" with them in the fall...meaning we have done zero Track work and really didn't do as much speed as you might imagine for a couple of 15:17 5k guys. They very well may have a lot left in terms of ceiling for their careers...If not his year...they will certainly look at this in 2019...but for now... Training together and racing together will help the dynamic duo as they see if they can best one of Colorado's All-time Boy Distance running Student-Athletes.

We have a whole lot to train for over the next few months and we will certainly be adding questions and formulating answers as we go. Track and Field season should be a very fun and engaging season. We are looking forward to it and by any measure we feel like you are as well...see you at practice if you can join us!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

We will never get this opportunity again...

We will never get this opportunity again...
Why Aaron Leblanc will be the reason we win. 

Dreams...That what I see when I look at this picture of Aaron. A guy dreaming about getting faster and being better, and succeeding. No matter what happens over the next year, Aaron Leblanc will be a guiding light on a path that has potential to be the greatest in school history. Having already showed up the final weeks of the season because all he wanted to do was get better...he is showing us the way. Aaron is in it for all the right reasons and his heart and passion is an example of the type we all will need in order to be great. 

Although, different contexts and narrative we have the makings of something very special on both sides, guys and girls in 2018....

While the high aspirations of our guys team will certainly continue to dominate conversations we cannot forget the context and narrative on the girls side. Losing five seniors and losing incoming girls to Develyn High, we have work to do on the girls side. We have a wonderful core of hard working passionate girls who the responsibility of keeping Dakota Ridge in the State XC meet will fall on. We must work this winter, in track season and this summer in order to improve everyone. We will need everyone. Our Region for the ladies will get immensely harder with Mountain Vista and Valor joining us. Chatfield is hungry and young and looking to finally move ahead of us in a Regional. We are in a year long fight to improve. Steady, passionate, fun hard work will bring us the improvement we seek for all our girls. We will prevail in the end, but in this sport we must train year round to do it. If we pull together as a group and work together to improve, this girls 2018 year will be a very special one in our history. 

For our boys program we have a singular chance at history for Dakota Ridge, for ourselves, for each other. The decisions we make, the choices we encounter are now going to be looked at through a different lens for the next year. This is the inevitable road we travel with a program searching for greatness. A program with a road to a State Championship, a road to Portland for a National Championship birth. 

In order to achieve the most coveted of dreams for most High School Cross Country teams...we must make decisions through the lens of "team". 

What can we do that will honor the immense opportunity we currently have? 

The first thing that will help the team...will be what Aaron has shown us... that showing up, training hard with a great attitude and passion to improve will win the day. 

We cannot count on our talent, our charm and our general good nature to lead us to the promise land. What we can count on is each other. We need to be accountable to each other and the immense opportunity before us. Without each other we are nothing. Showing up, making this a priority is worth every minute of stress it may bring. The celebration... is that through everything we journeyed together and gave each other our best effort in order to succeed. 

Mountain Vista didn't get to where they are right now because of luck. They got there through a dedication to each other, and to the cause. They got there because they made it a priority in their lives to always improve. Right now, as I write this a group of boys who will take over the reins at Mountain Vista is looking at us, looking to hunt us down and beat us. We are the hunted like it or not. Rock Canyon is doing the same. Young and led by an incredible talent in Easton Allred they want more then 2nd at State and 6th at Nike. They also will hunt us for a year looking to beat us. 

For one year of your life you will have to make decisions that help the team. Often times it has been the decisions to NOT do something that makes the greatest impact. NOT having tons of sugar should keep you healthy overall and minimize sickness. NOT doing dangerous things like trampolines and "crazy" downhill mountian biking...(sorry guys) among other potentially injurious events should be at least considered as something you don't do because of the risk. Every great thing in life requires sacrifice on some level. This endeavor to be great will be no different. I watch injuries in the NFL and in NBA ruin seasons and I hear horror stories from other coaches whose kids dreams were dashed because of injury. My sincere hope is that we can be smart about our choices and stay healthy enough and training consistent so that we can make our dreams a reality. 

 The winter training cycle has proven vital over the years as a setup for the rest of the year. Consistent and smart training is usually what keeps athletes healthy and thus on a path to improvement. Over the years I have seen athletes not have good winters and it often leads to a challenging year either performance wise or injury wise. We make things gradual and we are planning to add in some specific weight room routines that will help us. It will be important to be a part of the process if you can be here this winter. 

The process of training, the process of seeking our best for each other is what will ultimately make the difference for our boys and girls in 2018. Aaron Leblanc has already been showing us how to do it. His work paid off big time already and I am so excited to his progress through the coming year. If we do what Aaron has done and show up to keep improving and looking to be our best we will never regret it. 

We will never get the opportunity we have before us again. Let's honor it for what it is and be willing to engage in the process and seek the very best from each other.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

League Meet Review

Program scores for 2017-2018 Jeffco League Championship:

Program score is adding the team placing from the 4 races (Varsity Girls, Varsity Boys, JV Girls, JV Boys) together to identify which Jeffco Program was best at the League meet in 2017-2018.

1) Dakota Ridge  6 (1, 1, 2, 2)
2)Arvada West    7 (1,1, 2, 3)
3) Ralston Valley 14
4) Lakewood 17
5) Chatfield 18
6) Columbine 22
7) Bear Creek 28
8) Pomona 32

Historically over the last 20 years more often than not we have been the best Cross Country program in Jefferson County based on this scoring. Last year we lost it to Arvada West.  It was once again an exceptional effort on our part to bring back that title.

The effort from everyone on the team was fantastic. I cannot say enough how proud I am of the effort over the last week and half. It showed that we took this race seriously despite the varied and multiple distractions we had over the twelve days leading into the race. Unfortunate for our kids was the weather which really changed things from a clock standpoint. With a big swing in temperature during the week and a start time for Varsity races in the hottest part of the day, conditions were just such that not many would set personal bests on this day. Despite this our team performed extremely well against our league and proved once again that our way of doing things is as solid and true as they come. Excellent and fantastic work done by all!!  

As is my ritual, I take a look through the results and look to highlight a few kids who stood out to me with their performance. As I always say when I write not take it personally if you are not highlighted. I cannot write about everyone on the team based on time, but I feel it is important to write about some.

Nick Ballard.... A year ago Nick joined us from soccer. He has been a tremendous addition to our Cross Country and Track and Field program. Nick ran 22:13  a year ago at league, and this year ran 20:52 for a new personal best. Nick has been one of many of you who show up all the time and look to get better day in day out.

Erik Selfridge...With a 21 second PR and getting  just under 32 minutes at 31:59 Erik's effort certainly needs to be highlighted here. Erik is a tough, hard working, never quit guy. All of his races he gives his best effort and he has looked to better his time every week no matter what.

Bradley Weaver....providing us with comedy and lighthearted questions, Bradley has not realized his potential in the sport yet. Truly, it was a highlight of the race to see him go for it and try to break 19 minutes as I challenged him to at practice. He will break 19 minutes at some point. On this day he went 19:41 and competed. Fun to see for a guy I have a feeling can really make something for
himself in this sport should he choose to.

Jacob White...Jacob was moved to JV because of some health concerns during the week. He responded with a fabulous 17:37 all alone 5k that won the JV race. Nice to see a young guy bounce back and show he is fine and ready for the championship stretch.

Olivia Fink....Olivia's story is quite special. We will certainly be hearing more about it this year, but her kick and the end of this one nabbed a couple people and made the difference from a third place team finish to a 2nd place team finish in Girls Varsity and thus also moved our program score to 6 instead of 7. One kick is all it takes sometimes.

Sydny Oryshchyn...I think what is happening here is a young lady coming of age in this sport. The last two weeks she has been truly special in her performances. She was our top finisher in the JV race in 4th and a season best time of 22:21. Her competitiveness and grit has started to take over and she is running her best at the right time.

Chloe Meehan...Showing grit of her own, Chloe had a tremendous race to finish in 6th of the JV race. Her best time of the year and a fabulous performance. She will look to keep that effort going this Thursday at our Regional Championship race.

Kayla McClain...I will use the word enigmatic for this performance and do so with the utmost respect for one of our most talented student athletes. Easily one of her best as an Eagle so far this one came out of nowhere. Running in the neighborhood of 24:30 or 25 minutes for race after race, Kayla went for it in this one and ran 23:18 and 8th in the JV race. Last year she was 37th in this same race. Spectacular effort and one we hope to see more of!!

Morgan Carlson....A desire to work hard and get better is the first step in being successful in anything. Morgan wants to get better and keeping improving in this sport. She had a very nice performance running her season best of 27:32. It was a solid and fabulous effort for her to end the season on and build from for next year.

Isabel Douce....Her story is a favorite of mine for sure. Having been dealing with an abdominal injury for much of the season she was really nervous going into this one that she was not going to be able to finish. Her mind overcame the injury a bit, and while it still hurt she toughed it out to finish in 27:23 which if I am not mistaken is her personal best by a lot. It was a tremendous effort and one that I am very very proud of her for.