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Running to a Legacy of Greatness

Brent Peterson

Nov 23, 2023

KU Girls’ XC Win a Third Consecutive District Title

For the last three years in a row, KU’s Girls Cross Country team, coached by Rob Coffman, has won the Skyline District title. The girls have won this title six times over the past eight years. The team has been able to maintain this through the hard work and dedication of each of its members.

Summer practices start at the beginning of July, first thing in the morning. Of course, these practices are completely optional, but the team always shows up. A critical piece of summer training, that is greatly encouraged by Coffman,  is Steens High Altitude Running Camp, which many members of the team attend. This camp is recognized nationwide as an arduous and testing week of running. It trains endurance through the end in the runners and includes many hills and long miles. Two runs leave the greatest impression and the longest-lasting results: “Big Day” and “Cross Canyon.” 

“‘Big Day’ started at the crack of dawn,” says Sophomore Jacob Martin. “We ate breakfast, then loaded a bus at 7:30.” Martin recalls, “We arrived and started a 14-mile hike/walk into a canyon. We then traveled six miles in iterations of running for 60 seconds and walking for 60. Then, we hiked up a hill called ‘Heart Break Hill’ for about a mile. At the top of the hill, we got a single lemon drop. We then ran about seven miles back to camp.” The second run that had the greatest effect on the runners is called “Cross Canyon”. According to Martin “Cross Canyon” is, “The hardest 5k you’ll ever run, but also the most fun.” They warmed up by walking/running four miles uphill. They began the race 60-second intervals apart in a previously determined order via a hat drawing the night before. The girls' teams went first, followed by the guys. Martin reports that the start consisted of “running really fast down a hill and then climbing up a steep glacier”. When asked about how the path looked Martin responded, “The course doesn’t exist, there is no path or route. They just point vaguely in the direction of the finish, tell you which way your shadow should be facing, and send you on your way.” As a testament to the difficulty of the run, in this 5k, a time under 40 minutes is alright, while a regular 5k takes around 20 minutes. Steens has many lessons to be learned. Martin reflects by saying, “It helped me realize that you always have more to give. However, I also learned that running isn’t a matter of speed or distance, but rather the people you do it with.”

Sophomore Eleanor Rodriguez, when asked the question of why she thinks the girls' team has won the district title three times in a row simply said this, “Coffman has been able to hold the district title for the last three years because, with Isa, he has created a culture of dedication to the sport.” Senior Isabella Coffman, the daughter of Coach Coffman and the Girls' Team Captain, has been leading the team not only in times but also in general positivity. “Isa leads by example to make us better. When I joined the team, I went into it knowing that everyone around me was working as hard or harder because they love cross country.” Rodriguez recollects, “That dedication is what really makes the KU team and Coffman special.” Though Coffman is a great coach, he is not the only one. He is joined by many other coaches who provide their skills to the team. “Jeanne is the grandmother of our team. She is always there to encourage you and brings the most amazing sweets. Laurie brings us so much school spirit. She provides the team with personalized ribbons and good luck bracelets. Rick is great. He’s got his ponytail, hat, and glasses. He will always stake our spot on the starting line and tell us strategies for the race. You can always count on him to tell you ‘one lap to go’ when there are actually 600 meters left. Phil brings a lot of innovation to the team. Since he ran at higher levels more recently, he has new workouts. Jay is always prepared and a doctor. For example, he and his family brought breakfast and ice cream to us before a meet.” Rodriguez reports.

With a great coaching staff, incredible motivation, and an unmatched sense of culture and dedication it’s no wonder the KU cross-country team shines in its field, especially the girls' team. When faced with challenges, the team will always be able to endure. This team shows what it means to have spirit and a good time. As Jacob Martin said, “I learned that running isn’t a matter of speed or distance, but rather the people you do it with.”

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