“Did I make up the right workouts? Did we taper correctly? Did I mentally prepare them just right, or was it too much? Are we ready?”
Those were just some of the questions running through Canyon Del Oro Coach Rick Glider’s mind as the boys’ state cross country meet got under way. By the time it ended, Glider’s concerns turned into relief.
After 19 years of coaching, and for the first time in CDO history, the boys cross country team won a state championship.
“After the race, I wasn’t sure if we had won it. There were just too many runners coming across the finish line for me to keep track,” said Glider.
Glider was the first to find out about the victory, but he chose not to tell the boys. He wanted them to hear their school’s name being announced during the award ceremony.
“When the boys heard they had won, they were absolutely thrilled,” said Glider.
The victory did not come without a lot of hard work and discipline throughout the season. The team, who never doubted their ability to win state, was exposed to a variety of preparation workouts including long runs, tempo runs, hill workouts, long and short repetition runs, and intervals.
Leading the way for the Dorados was senior Lucas Rischar, who placed fifth overall with a time of 16 minutes, 36 seconds. Just behind him, junior Drew Garcia finished seventh with a time of 16:42.
“We stuck to our motto of pack it up, suck it up, and don’t settle. After the race, I just told them I was so very proud of them. There were hugs all around,” said Glider.
Right on the heels of the Dorados were the Nighthawks of Ironwood Ridge High School, a team that has repeatedly proven its place in high school athletics over the years.
Coach Gary Forrest said, “I’m proud of our consistency. In the last seven years the boys cross country team has placed third three times, been runner up twice, and state champions once.”
While Forrest mentioned that many of the runners were disappointed with the outcome, the second-place finish was nothing to be ashamed of considering the obstacles the team faced throughout the year.
“Of our top five, four were injured at one time or another,” he said. “It was frustrating, but as a coach it was rewarding to see the kids overcome adversity. I’m very proud of their accomplishments.”
The Nighthawks trained six days a week and averaged between seven and nine miles per day, and were naturally self-motivated, according to Forrest.
Leading the way for the school’s top five was John Winfield, who finished the with a time of 16:45, good for a ninth-place finish.