Even though Coach Rebecca Hofer lost most of her varsity cross-country team in Marion’s spring graduation, she is excited at the possibilities a rebuilding year affords and has plans to develop new and returning runners.
“You can’t expect freshmen to take the place of seniors,” she said. “But as a team, I want to see improvement.”
Runners were encouraged to practice as a team in June and July, she said, but it was hard to get everyone together because of conflicting schedules.
Many team members were on vacation or spending time with family that did not live close by.
One senior, Timothy Knolla, who went to state last year, was in Canada visiting his father during much of summer practice. Hofer said he ran well the couple of times she saw him run.
She also expects senior Jared Hague and junior Quinton Hett, who both also ran at state last year, to run well once everyone bolsters endurance.
She anticipates freshmen Seth Savage and Taylor Fahey, who both competed in junior high cross-country, to help round out the varsity team this year.
Two returning Lady Warriors are McKenzee Remmers and Shyla Harris. Both sophomores ran well last year, Hofer said. However, she plans to run the majority of the girls on junior varsity until she feels they are at the right level.
Hofer plans to adjust workouts by varying the distance individuals are expected to run.
“New runners can’t run five miles a day,” she said. “Some I just have run six blocks and walk one block in repetition.”
Hofer uses a timed 2-mile run for high schoolers and a 1-mile run for middle schoolers as a baseline to measure progress and set goals for later in the season.
She plans to use a variety of drills and exercises in addition to distance training to bring the younger runners up to speed.
The hill workout, in which she usually has kids run six to seven 1-minute hills and five to six 30-second hills, is usually a good indicator of speed, she said. Generally, if a runner can keep pace throughout the drill they are in good shape.
Hofer has her team run Fartleks, which essentially are interval workouts in which runners’ alternate fast and slow speeds over specific periods of time and distance.
“We use the entire town to train,” she said. “I use a lot of cones to mark the way.”
She has several routes that she plans ahead of time. Being the only coach for both high school and middle school teams, she also logs about 5 miles a day on her bike keeping track of her team.
Sometimes she lends her GPS watch to team member.
“It helps them keep track of how fast and how far they run,” she said. “Some like using it other don’t.”
No matter what the case, Hofer feels it is important to remind her team of their progress as it happens.
“Some people think of a rebuilding year as negative,” she said. “But I like getting to see the kids improve over the course of the season.”
- Sept. 9: MMS/MHS at Abilene.
- Sept. 12: MHS only at Hesston.
- Sept.19: MMS/MHS at Peabody.
- Sept. 26: MMS/MHS at Home .
- Oct. 3: MMS/MHS at Halstead.
- Oct. 8: MMS/MHS at Eureka.
- Oct. 17: League at Bennington.
- Oct. 26: Regionals.
- Nov. 2: State.