Monday, December 9, 2013

DXC Update - NXN Finals

Darts - 
Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) was the perfect end to a dream season. It was a long path to get there for both the boys and the girls. It took a lot of drive, commitment, and most of all TEAMwork. I am sure most of you were following the race on Saturday, but in case you did not see, the girls finished on the podium with 3rd place, and the boys fought hard for a 17th place finish out of the 22 teams in the race. Davis XC was very well represented all weekend by the way our kids behaved and the way they performed.
The entire weekend was filled with fun and excitement. We were able to meet some of the best runners in the world: Galen Rupp (2nd place in the 2012 Olympic 10,000m), Dathan Ritzenheim (3 time Olympian), Matt Tegenkamp (helped with the shoe fitting), Evan Jager (U.S. Steeplechase Record Holder), Andrew Wheating (1:44 800m PR), Luke Puskedra (Utah native we got to run with and eat dinner with), Alan Webb (U.S. Mile Record Holder), Chris Solinsky (first non-African sub 27:00 10,000m runner), Shalane Flannigan (2 Time Olympian), German Fernandez, Chris Derrick, and many others including Mo Farah (Gold Medalist in the 5k and 10k at the 2012 Olympics). We also got some pretty sweet Nike gear - including some very interesting purple uniforms to race in. And we spent a lot of time on the world famous Nike Campus. It was an unbelievable experience that motivated me as a coach to be even better and work even harder - and definitely inspired the athletes to be there very best. I would hope that those of you following at home were excited for your teammates and especially that you young runners were inspired for next year when we get to go back (after a lot of work in the track seasons and the summer). 
Saturday was one of the greatest days in DXC history. It was cold, and the ground was lumpy and frozen, but the course was fast because there was no mud. It was a huge contrast to what we saw a year ago (just look at the pictures). The girls raced first - and were very positive despite the cold weather. We had a goal going into the race to make the podium (top 3), but it was not going to be easy. We were up against some very strong teams: Great Oak from California was coming off the fastest team time in CA state history, Fayetteville-Manlius is always tough at NXN and had won 7 in a row, Wayzata of Minnesota came in with the tightest pack in the country, Carmel of Indiana had been ranked #1 at some points of the season, Fort Collins and Monarch of Colorado were both running strong, and Unionville of Pennsylvania had an undefeated season going (even beating Manlius 2 times early on). It was going to be a battle. As the cannon went off (they used a cannon rather than a gun), our girls fought hard through the first 400m to establish position. Taylor got off the line strong and was in about 40th at the first turn, but it was hard to tell where the other girls were in the HUGE mass of runners. The race has a total of 199 runners (154 from teams and 45 individuals) - all of a relatively close level. As Aubrey tried to follow Taylor through the crowd, she hit a rough patch of ground and got tripped up and went to the ground before the end of the first turn (maybe 400m in). Falling that early in the race makes it very challenging - because 2-3 seconds can be 60-70 runners. But Aubrey didn't panic. She got back on her feet, and found herself back in the pack. The good thing was that she was with 3 other Davis girls. Kenzie, Sierra, and Hannah helped Aubrey get back in the race. By 1000m, we were further back in the pack than we wanted to be. Taylor held her position well, and Ashley wasn't far behind, but the other 5 were packed close together maybe 40 runners back. The first time the team scores came up on the board, we were in 4th place behind Manlius, Wayzata, and Unionville (I didn't know we were 4th at the time - it felt like we were quite a ways back). The middle of the race was huge for us. Our girls ran very strong through the pack and really moved up as a group. They had to fight for it though - the ground was not very smooth, and the whoop-de-doos and hay bales were definitely a challenge. It is not easy to move up through the groups, but our girls found a way. By 2k and 3k we had moved up into 3rd place, but were trailed closely by Carmel. When we were still in 3rd at the 4k, I knew we had a shot at the podium because our girls were running with so much heart and toughness. It was our strongest finish of the year. Taylor had faded back into the high 40s, but made up a lot of ground over the final 800 to finish 39th (13th in team scoring) with 18:16. Aubrey didn't stop fighting the entire race and gave a final strong effort to finish in 67th (28th team scoring) with 18:41. Ashley ran steady the whole race and finished in 71st (31st in team scoring) with 18:46. Sierra was huge for us as our #4 runner and really closed well to get 79th (38th in team scoring) with 18:48. (I thought this was cool on Sierra - - Taylor also shows up on the list). Hannah finished with so much intensity - probably passing more than 20 girls in the final mile to get 89th (47th in team scoring) with 18:55. Kenzie really helped our pack out and gave all she had to finish right behind Hannah in 96th (54th team scoring) with 19:00. And Ally had a very solid race - especially for a freshman - with her 116th place finish (71st in the team scoring) in 19:15. Ally ended up beating the #5 runner (or better) on 15 of the 22 teams. It was an honor to stand on the podium with these 7 girls who had given so much all season long and who really laid it on the line in the race. They were brave and strong and I could not have been more proud of who they are and what they accomplished. 
Girls Team Scores:
1. Wayzata, MN - 108
2. Manlius, NY - 120
3. Davis, UT - 157
4. Carmel, IN - 182
5. Monarch, CO - 211
6. Fort Collins, CO - 212
7. Unionville, PA - 214
8. Great Oak, CA - 276
9. Simi Valley, CA - 277
10. Bozeman, MT - 278

The boys had every right to be happy just to be there, but that wasn't enough for them. I really feel that we beat all odds in even qualifying for the meet. We have a very young team with little varsity experience (other than Skylar and Stokton, none of the boys had run in a varsity race before this season). We put together an amazing race at the regional and we showed a lot of determination and patience all season long. Qualifying for Nationals was enough of an accomplishment to make this a very successful year for the boys, and I was proud of them for not approaching the race just happy to be there. They put themselves in the pack and they didn't stop fighting until the very end. Skylar had a bit of a rough day - but Josh was right there to run with him and push him quite a bit through the final mile of the race. Kimball lost a shoe and had to run over a mile with only one shoe on (over the rough, frozen ground), and the 20 degree weather was not easy on Stokton's asthma. But they still fought and they still ran for something. Skylar had a killer kick to finish in 83rd (45 team score) with 16:05. Josh was right behind in 88th (49th team score) with 16:07. Logan had his typical wizard finish to get 114th (72 team score) with 16:22. Colton ran as steady and strong as ever - I think this was his course - to finish in 125th (82 team score) with 16:25. Colter stepped up huge for us with 140th (96 team score) in 16:31 (he made the same list as Sierra - Stokton went for it, and although he struggled with his breathing, he still held on for 157th (113 team score) in 16:45. And Kimball gave a great shoeless effort with his 188th place finish in 17:24. Our boys TEAM is filled with competitors and champions. I am so proud of all that they have done this season - and I think they have some great things in their future. 
Boys Team Scores:
1. Gig Harbor, WA - 111
2. Christian Brothers, NJ - 139
3. Brentwood, GA - 174
4. Manlius, NY - 216
5. Carmel, IN - 225
6. Cincinnati, OH - 228
7. American Fork, UT - 230
8. North Spokane, WA - 231
9. Arcadia, CA - 255
10. Edina - 263
17. Davis - 344

A special thanks to everyone on the team for all of the support and all of the hard work that got us there. I hope that more than anything, you were motivated to keep working together and keep accomplishing great things as a TEAM. 
I would also like to thank all of our parents for their support, for their trust, and for their friendship. We are very blessed to have some incredible parents on this TEAM. 
And a HUGE thanks to Brad for being my right hand man and for making NXN so much fun each year, and to Coach Timothy for all his help this season. 

Davis NXN History:
2007 Girls - 9th place
2010 Boys - 11th place
2011 Boys - 3rd place (Highest Utah finish at the time - AF finished 2nd in 2012)
2012 Boys - 13th place
2012 Girls - 12th place
2013 Girls - 3rd place (Highest Utah finish - beating the 2004 5th place Fremont team)

I know most of you know, but indoor track starts tomorrow (Tuesday). 9th graders should come over after school and get the information from me. I will most likely have a meeting with all the distance runners on Friday this week - in my classroom when the 9th graders can be there on time. 

Keep dreaming - 
Coach Talley

ps. Sorry for the long email - I did not have the time or the energy to do any editing - so sorry if I messed something up.

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