Strong Community Relations Yield Dividends For The Lions

Returning Database All-Team Rankings: 1st (This data does not account for transfers)

Returning AIA D1 Team Rankings: 1st (This data does not account for transfers)

2018 AIA CC State Championship D1 Finish: 5th Place

Last season, the Red Mountain girls were ranked among the top three teams in the State. The Lions dominated their home invite, racked up victories at Desert Solstice, Doug Conley, and the Mesa City Meet before moving on to finish 5th in the D1 Girls race at the State Championships. Since then, the Lions have continued to improve and develop their speed on the track. Nikki Hemmerlin ran a 5:05 mile, and Taylor Jacobs (now a sophomore) finished 12th in the D1 Girls 800m at the State Meet. The Lions have a solid mix of both seasoned veterans and an exciting young underclass. Could the newcomers aid the Lions to a higher finish at the State Meet?

Coach Brent Krieg Says...

Who are your top girl returners?

We return 6 of our top 7 runners from last year's 5th place team at State. They are: Niki Hemmerlin (Sr.), Taylor Jacobs (So.), Ariel Fendenheim (So.), Brenna Bourgeois (Jr.), Kate Brockman (Jr.), and Emma Elsner (Sr.). We graduated a great runner and leader in Riley Boyer, but we are very excited to see how our returners will fit into that leadership role and/or top seven rotation. Those athletes are Brooke Jacobs (Sr.), Jackie Lobatos (Sr.), Kimi Smith (So.), Jocee Henderson (Sr.), Natalie Elsner (So.) and Kayla Hansen (So.). I believe we are going to have a very strong varsity and open group this year.

(Right: In the past two years, the Red Mountain Lions have secured back-to-back victories at the City Championships.)

Do you have any impact freshman or incoming transfers?

We have been blessed with outstanding Red Mountain community support throughout the years. Our athletes do a great job volunteering with our feeder programs in the Junior High cross-country seasons as well as mentoring younger athletes during our summer camps. Our athletes make not only the feeder programs great, but also encourage participation when Junior High athletes matriculate to Red Mountain. In that regard, we have a great number of new freshmen from our feeder schools running for Red Mountain this year.

Because of our athletes' community and campus involvement, our program will benefit from the addition of Madison Burkholder (9th) from one of our feeder schools as well Jocee Henderson (12th from basketball) and Kayla Hansen (10th from soccer) from our own campus. We are proud that our team is comprised from our Red Mountain community.

How have you built RMXC culture? Are there any traditions that have stood the test of time for you guys?

Much like the previous question, our athletes are deeply involved in the Red Mountain community. Because of that we have continued success. To further establish our culture when athletes join the team at RM, we have several team building activities that we do. Some examples are our summer camp trip to Greer, athlete led pasta parties, and our secret sister program. We also like to do themed runs.

On a pre-meet day, we might walk over to RM Park for grass drills and practice starts and before we leave to the park, I will rearrange the girls based on a random quality like height, or alphabetical order. I will then pair them up and have them discuss random things like race goals, strategies, favorite color, etc. It generally allows athletes to converse with someone who is not in their pace group and creates much greater interpersonal dynamics on the team.

(Left: Taylor Jacobs [6421] fiinished 15th among D1 Girls at the AIA State Championship. - photo by John Hays)

Our athletes in the past few years have taken several days during the training cycle to practice 'put-ups' that they generally do on days we have short easy runs to and from the pool. They spend their conversational running time making a positive comment about a teammate. Once everyone has been allowed to do a 'put-up' we may bring out a random question from a game called 'Would You Rather.'

Overall, we try to encourage our athletes to be supportive of each other in every facet of their running, school, and life. This also includes volunteering for Feed My Starving Children and participating in Beads of Courage. This outreach is a huge part of how we interact with our community and develop our culture.

Do you engage the Lions in supplementary training (plyometrics, calisthenics, weight-lifting) and if so, could you describe a typical routine outside of running?

A typical training regimen for us will include a variety of non-running activities. We like for our athletes to stretch before runs as well as roll/stretch after runs as much as possible. Our head boys track coach, Josh Barge, creates an athlete specific weight training program that we use twice a week post-run. We also have pool workouts that we use as low-impact work such as running form, VO2 max development, and plyometrics. We typically ice bath two days before invite meets. We also try to vary our running locations on Saturdays so that we can incorporate hill work as well as mimic various courses that we run throughout the year.

What advice do you give to any athlete who just ran the worst race of their career?

Often times I will start with an allegory or analogy to drive home the general point that bad races happen. The allegory or analogy will also reinforce the key is to accept that the bad race did happen and there is nothing that can be done to fix the past. From there the goal is to process the feeling, look to see what contributed to the poor race performance, resolve how to fix it, and then fix it. And the most important thing that I tell them is that they are okay, we appreciate their effort, and their willingness to talk to us about it.

An example of one analogy I use is the idea of quicksand. When you first get into quicksand, you struggle with the fact that you are in quicksand and start going in several (non-productive) directions. But if you accept that you are in quicksand and overcome the initial worry about the possible ramifications of being in quicksand then you can formulate a rational plan to get out of it and make sure that you don't end up back in quicksand. Otherwise, you'll continue to struggle and the quicksand will overtake you.

Check out the Red Mountain stats on the next page...