Last man running
Sierra Sun sports editor
In the words of Loren Myers, a lot of athletes perceive running as the punishment of their particular sport.
But for Myers and his other Truckee High School cross country teammates, running is sport. For Myers personally, he enjoys long-distance running because it brings him peace of mind.
“It’s the mental aspect (I like) because when I go out and run, I get clarity,” said the Truckee senior. “I go out and run and don’t think about much; I have a good time with it feeling like I’m getting fit, and I feel good afterwards. Especially after bad days, you come out and run it out of your system.”
Finding enjoyment in something usually breeds success, and the same is true with Myers. By finishing 15th at the Cross Country 3A Northern Region Meet on Oct. 28 in Reno, Myers has qualified for the 2004 NIAA 3A Cross Country State Championship (on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Boulder City, Nev.), the only Truckee runner to do so this season.
Myers’ situation is quite a contrast from a year ago, when the entire Truckee boys’ team finished third overall (top three teams qualify for state, along with the top five individuals not on one of those teams) at the regional meet to earn a trip to the state championship. The team duplicated its third-place finish at state and Myers posted the 16th best individual time (19:14.57).
This year may be different, but Myers’ goal still remains the same. In fact, it’s the goal of every cross country runner week-in and week-out: To improve.
“My specific goal is to beat a few individuals that beat me the last race,” he said. “That’s my main goal, but overall to just do a better job than I have in all the other races. To go to state last year and then go again this year, it’s just a good feeling all the way around.”
Following an 18th place finish in the first meet at North Tahoe on Sept. 17, Myers finished in the Top 10 in the final four meets, including a fifth-place at Sparks on Oct. 1. Myers was the only Truckee runner to medal in all five events.
Not only has he excelled since rejoining the cross country team his junior year ” he played football his freshman and sophomore years after running cross country in middle school ” he is also a team leader, a concept that is hard to fathom in such an individual sport.
“Last week we got to see some of the 4A schools and all that,” said first-year head coach Tom Wood. “Loren had the team warm-up and stretch beforehand, and warm down and stretch together as a team afterwards. Usually, (the attitude is) finish the race, get in the van, and let’s get out of here. I did not see one other team ” 4A or 3A ” that did that. The team listened to him, and they bonded as a group together.”
Myers said he knows he would like to run for a college, but is undecided as to where at the moment. He is also an accomplished Nordic skier and has run track and field on-and-off since middle school.
To Woods, the fact that Myers is the lone Truckee representative at this year’s state meet is not an indication that the team had a bad season. Woods was named the head coach just before the season started, which cost the team quality practice time. In fact, the team missed the first scheduled meet at Incline on Sept. 10.
“We started off late in the year and got together somewhere around Sept. 10 or so, while most teams had gotten together in early August,” Wood said. “The entire team improved throughout the year anywhere from two to four-and-a-half minutes. We put in a lot of hard work all six weeks and rapidly saw times improve.”
In a sport in which improvement matters significantly, Woods feels pretty good at season’s end.
“They all improved,” he said about the team, “You take a look at someone on the girls’ side: Alex (Prodaniuk). She started off the year I think third from last at the North Tahoe Invitational ” her time was above 29 minutes. Then last week she finished 24th, and her time was 25-and-a-half, so that’s four minutes (improvement) there. John Haragen ” same thing ” fought through the entire season and improved by two minutes.”
Haragen is actually helping his teammate get ready for the state championship.
“The season’s over for him, and he’s still working out with Loren to help him get ready for the state meet,” Wood said. “When our team didn’t make state back in New York, everyone was gone and you were on your own; so I had never seen that before.”
Woods said he would like to return as the head coach next season, and, if he does, he’s already contemplating ways to make the program better.
“I’d like to do things a little different,” he said. “Like get everybody together a little bit earlier ” you know, have a much bigger team, do some recruiting earlier and try get some of these cross country skiers out here. Maybe beef up the schedule a little and go to a meet or two in California.”
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