Summer running participation rises at Northwest
The thought of 7:15 a.m. rarely brings a smile to anyone’s face, especially those who have to get somewhere by that early-rising hour.
Yet for Van Rose, head cross country coach at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, what happened from 7:15 to 9:00 a.m. most mornings this summer gave him plenty to be happy about.
What pleased Rose was the level of commitment he saw out of this year’s summer running group — a collection of 20-30 Northwest runners who used the June, July and August sessions to improve their fitness and prepare for the 2010 cross country season.
“It’s probably been as good as any one I’ve ever seen,” Rose said Sunday night while recapping the summer running program. “The kids have done a great job of getting there on time, some of them from a very long way away. It’s very encouraging from that standpoint. Whether that translates into success or not, we still don’t know; but I was encouraged.”
The Cougar running crew met on weekdays during the summer in front of Element Fitness on the corner of 79th Street and Quivira. By 7:25 each morning they were on the move with each runner having their own plan and goals for the summer.
“I’ve got multiple running plans,” Rose said regarding the programs for his male and female athletes. “I give them day-by-day running to do, but they pick their own plan of what they think is best for them. I used to do weekly plans, but they need more direction than that. The plans are really designed for where you are on your running career. They’re more based on experience.”
The Northwest cross country athletes will finish their summer running program this week before beginning fall practices on Monday, Aug. 16, the first day of school for SMNW. Though Rose didn’t get to see all of his athletes run this summer, he was thankful for the ones that attended.
“I’d like to think that — coming to the first day of practice — that I know everybody,” Rose stated. “That’s my goal.”
Though the Cougars have continued to be one of the top three boys programs in the state of Kansas, they have not claimed the Class 6A state championship the past two years after winning 14 straight titles previously. If the Cougars are going to reclaim the throne, the resurgence may have begun this summer.
“In May, I just stressed that cross country is a team thing; it takes a team effort,” Rose said. “And that’s what I saw this summer: a group of seven to eight guys running together, a group of three to four girls running together. There’s really some accountability that way.
“This year we’re just going to stress the pursuit of excellence. We want you to be the best runner you can be — from the top runner to the bottom runner. I’d like to see real passion this season.”