Country Day’s cross-country team nears the finish line, qualifying and competing in the Section Championships. The team has grown, and Coach Joe Hartman believes that the team can reach the state level this year or in the coming years.
At the beginning of the season, Hartman’s goal was to place highly at the league championship and qualify for sections. Nonetheless, Hartman’s ultimate goal as a coach is to reach his team’s potential.
“My No. 1 goal as a coach is generally trying to grow the program and to just help the runners feel good about themselves and be the best they can be at running,” Hartman said.
In order to achieve what he calls a “culture of running,” Hartman worked with the runners on developing effective and manageable training schedules.
“The best thing to do is give the runners achievable challenges,” Hartman said. “It’s to give them a variety of workouts, and a variety of challenges from week to week and make them feasible so that (the runners) can reach their goals.”
The team used multiple locations to practice in order to prepare for the different courses they would encounter over the season. The team trained on campus, on the American River Trail and traveled to Ancil Hoffman Park to train for hills.
Hartman highlighted sophomore Wyatt Hall’s dedication to training over the summer. As a result of his efforts, Hall improved his times significantly. Hall hit a personal record for the 5k with a time of 18:40.3 at the Clovis Invitational.
“I definitely got faster this season which feels great,” Hall said. “Going to the practices and meets helped me get better because it improved my strength and pace.”
In addition, Hartman structured individualized workouts for some runners.
Senior Grace Eberhart trained with the team and independently to fit her packed schedule.
“Since I’ve been busy with senior stuff, he gives me my own workouts for the week,” Eberhart said. “When I’m practicing for a race, I usually do long-distance running for 5 to 6 miles or practice speed workouts.”
At the sub-sections meet, Eberhart set a 3-mile personal record with a time of 25:14.9 in girls’ varsity.
Highlights for the rest of the team included qualifying for the Nov. 12 section championship at Willow Hill Reservoir. A first and second-place finish from sophomore Andrew Burr and junior Aakash Arumugam respectively qualified them to compete in the State championships. Additionally, freshman Maddie Inman finished first in the freshman-sophomore girls’ race, and Eberhart made a PB of 26:20 for the 5k. Country Day placed 5th as an overall team.
However, as the season inches closer to the finish line, it also marks the end of Country Day cross-country for seniors Eberhart and Adam Akins.
“Grace has been on the team the most frequently and it is really going to be hard to lose someone of her cohesion, talent and attitude,” Hartman said. “Adam is just an amazing athlete that ran for us full-time in the past and part-time this year.”
Looking forward, the cross-country team hopes to qualify for the state finals next year. The last time Country Day made it to the state finals was in 2012. Hartman believes the team can achieve this goal through talent and hard work.
Hartman, who also coaches the middle school cross-country team, looks forward to the incoming freshmen runners joining the cross-country roster.
“We had a good year in middle school,” Hartman said, “And if anybody hangs around, we’re really going to be good in five years.”
By Aaryan Ghandi and Garman Xu
This story was originally published in the Nov. 16 issue of The Octagon