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Yukon cross country coaches reflect on season

The Yukon cross country season came to an end last Saturday at the 6A state cross country meet in Edmond.

Boys coach Matt Parent and girls coach Rodney Zimmerman gave their assessment of the 2018 season in a question and answer session.

Here is what the two coaches had to say:

Kyle Salomon: Rodney, how do you feel Elora Jones and Avery Stanley did at the state meet? How do you feel they competed? Matt, how do you feel Kolby Mccoy, Seth Cortez and Kohl Kimmel did and competed?

Rodney Zimmerman: Honestly, I know they wanted to run better and we wanted them to also. The level of competition at the state meet is so much different than a regular meet. All of the fast runners in the state are there.  I think they felt like they had started too fast, but really they started out a little behind where we would like them to be and that’s hard to correct in that kind of competition.

Matt Parent: I was really happy for Kolby, Kohl, and Seth for making it to state. We had a lot of issues and adversity this year, especially at the end, which could have kept them from making it, but they persevered and made it to state.  All three competed well and ran about where they had been running over the last few weeks.

KS: How do you think they handled the experience of the state meet?

RZ: Elora was there with a team last year and has experienced it before. It’s still a little different when you are running for yourself without a big team around you, so it was still a different experience for her.  Avery was surprised at the crowd that was there. It’s a lot different than what you see at any other meet.  I think they both learned a lot, and we will sit down with them this week and talk about it and see what they think will help not only them but the team going into next year.

MP: For Kohl and Seth, qualifying for state is big from the stand point that they are gaining experience for next year. Even though both have qualified before, it is always a learning experience. Last year, the temperature was in the 40’s. This year, it was over 80 degrees at race time. There is always something to be learned. For Kolby, qualifying meant something a little different.  He is a senior.  He is able to say that he is a four-time state qualifier.  Kolby has been there since his freshman year, so this is really special for him.

KS: How would you describe your seasons?

RZ: Interesting. We normally don’t see a lot of rain during a season, but this year we ran in the mud quite a bit that was a little crazy. Overall, there were some things I was really pleased with. I really didn’t know what to expect from some of our freshmen, some of them I have worked with in our strength in conditioning class when they were in middle school, but you just don’t know how they will handle a 5k race until we start training for it and get into some races. Avery, we felt would transition well and complement Elora as she did, but Ashley Brinkley, Avery Cunningham, and Avery Turner jumped into practices and did well all season for us. Josie Gray has been with us the last two years on the junior varsity and suddenly jumped up and became an important part of the varsity team. Asley Baker didn’t start off well this year, but a few meets into the season she moved back up where we thought she should be.

MP: Our goal is always to qualify to the state meet as a team. This year, we just missed it. We were fighting through some adversity and sickness at the end of the year that we haven’t had to deal with very often. Again, in each circumstance, there is always something to be learned.  We knew we were “behind the 8-ball” so to speak about half way through the season. We dedicated ourselves to working hard in practice, and the guys saw a great amount of improvement over the next month. They were running faster at practice in our speed work than they ever have.

KS: What are some things you learned about your team and yourselves this       season and what can you learn from this season and take into next year?

RZ: I think the biggest thing we learned is we have the ability to run well, but they just don’t believe it yet. Somehow, we need to come up with a way to convince them. We are going to work with them taking it upon themselves to get the distance they need in over the summer and be ready to go when we can begin working with them in mid-July, so that by the time school begins, we are running faster over a longer distance then we were at the beginning of this year. They get along really well, like a group we had a few years back and that hopefully will help over the summer if they can get together some and run as a group. We should have some more freshmen join the group that can help make everyone better also with more competition for spots on the varsity.

MP: Even though we fell short by just a few points from taking the whole team to state, we gained so much from the process of getting better. Now as we enter the track season, our distance crew understands what it will take to have a great track season, and as this year winds down, our underclassmen have a greater understanding of what it will take to get back to the cross country state meet as a team. Hard work during the summer will allow a greater volume and quality of work once school starts. I will make sure to keep reminding them of the lessons that have been learned this season.  Hopefully, this will only a one year hiatus, and it will ultimately make us stronger.

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