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Cross Country Runners Speed Toward Season

By Staff | Jul 6, 2016

Cross country runners sprint up a grassy hill toward the trails on the hills behind Tyler Consolidated High School during a recent skills camp organized by TCHS Coach Brenna Haggerty. Photos by Miles Layton



MIDDLEBOURNE Cross country athletes practiced the basics of competitively running long distance recently at a skills camp hosted by Tyler Consolidated High School.

Alderson Broaddus head Track Coach Jesse Weiner and A.B. Assistant Track Coach Earl Graves led the camp last week that was attended by some familiar names in Tyler track circles. Morning workout sessions consisted of stretching and speed drills.

“We’re want them to learn the basics, running strategies and more in preparation for the new season,” said TCHS Track Coach Brenna Haggerty, who organized the camp.

Nathan Barker (center) sports a great shirt that says “Shut and Run” as he focuses on the downhill stretch above the TCHS track. He is flanked by Haydn Brown, an eighth grade Tyler Middle track and cross country star, and Emily Ebert of A.I. Boreman fame who will now be attending Tyler Middle.

Runners had to do what is known as a ladder, which is a common training technique that emphasizes speed but not at the expense of endurance training. Basically, a runner sprints 100-meters, followed by a time-measured rest, then runs 200-meters, rest, then 300-meters, rest so on so forth. A good ladder simulates race conditions without necessarily shredding an athletes muscles after each sprint on the track. In that way, a runner’s mind and body learn to endure more speed and longer distances over time.

Morning track sessions were sometimes followed by a jog through the Silver Knights’ hilly cross country course. True to form, a deer or two was seen along the shaded course deep in the woods. Like the deer, runners had to maneuver through moss-covered trails up an ever climbing ascent up the steep hill behind the school. Racing down the hill was not for the faint hearted.

Haggerty said the hilly course is not necessarily geared toward achieving record-breaking times, but to challenge runners skills and endurance. The younger athletes at the camp ran 20 minutes on the course, which given their speed equated to at least a mile and a half of solid work. The more experienced runners did 30 minutes on the course, which equated to more than three miles.

The intensive training will prepare athletes for regional meets at Cameron High School’s cross country course or for Grand Vue’s beatdown hills with both courses having served in the past as regional qualifiers for the state meet. Cameron’s course offers water crossings and a few obstacles along its hilly trails. Grand Vue offers the potential for speed, but there are risks given the challenging terrain particularly that quad-busting gigantic hill at the end of the course.

During the camp, coaches were given a preview of sorts of the Corley brothers, Jahnvi Duncan, Nate Barker and others.

Gavin Corley, now a TCHS junior, showed he was still up to form after late May’s state track meet where he finished 12th in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:58 minutes after running a 5:02 minute qualifier at regionals. In June, Corley finished second in his age group when he ran a 20:30 minute at the Paden City Foundation 5K.

During a timed mile last week, Corley was not even winded during his first lap which hovered around 74 seconds in 78 degree heat, high humidity.

His younger brother, Spencer, a school record holder who will be in eighth grade at Tyler Middle, displayed a steely determination and intensity while running a timed-mile. Sure, it was just a scrimmage against other kids, but the lad put on his game face to run negative splits during the four-lap race to end with a finishing time in the upper 5-minute range.

Last season, Duncan, now a junior from Tyler Consolidated, finished in 26th place with a time of 24:29 at Cameron’s course. A state track meet qualifier, Duncan ran her mile in around 6:45ish around the Silver Knights’ track.

Nate Barker is no stranger to running either. Now a Silver Knights’ sophomore, Barker competed at the state track meet in the 4×110-meter relay. In June, Barker finished second in his age group with a time of 21:47 at the Paden City Foundation 5K. Barker’s speed and agility should serve the team very well this upcoming season.