The B-CC boys and girls cross country teams both took second place at last year's Montgomery County Championship Meet and third place at the state championship meet. The Barons are definitely not aiming for second best this year. They speak with confidence and do not mince words.
"We definitely want to win states," said senior Zoe Nuechterlein. "That's our main focus...everything is with that end goal in mind at the end of the season."
The boys team views itself in the same position.
Said junior Adam Nakasaka, "We're going to be looking at the other teams...not underestimating them and working towards sweeping the championship meets and the division. That's definitely something that's attainable for us."
Head Coach Chad Young was on board with those statements, but he said that those words were not his own.
"I leave the team goals up to the team," said Young. "We have started the conversation about what the season goals would be...It does sound like both the boys and girls teams have put a lot of thought into what they would like to accomplish for the season. They have been chatting about it with each other."
B-CC has a tendency to find talent relatively young, such as Adam Nakasaka and Josh Fry who were just outside the top ten in the county as sophomores, and Virginia Brown who finished fourth in the county last year as a freshman. The young runners described a gradual approach to training that entails building up a base over several years.
Said Brown, "I've been focusing more on strength and building that up and trying not to get injured...I think just building that solid base that I can use the next three years is important...gradually increasing mileage weekly and not jumping into too much speed or distance too quickly...I think my most was 50.7."
A fifty mile week in the summer with point seven to boot. That is a strong foundation indeed. Junior Josh Fry found himself with similar training habits.
Said Fry, "Definitely I've increased my mileage from week to week. Towards the end of the summer I was hitting 40 to 50 miles per week. In addition to that I added some workouts during the summer which I didn't do last year and that definitely helped a lot."
Adam Nakasaka's 9:38 3200-meter performance last spring made him one of the strongest sophomore two-milers in Montgomery County history, but it still places him about 30 seconds behind the personal best of Richard Montgomery's Rohann Asfaw. With that said, Nakasaka believes that if anyone can challenge Asfaw this season, it should be him.
"I'm definitely looking at top two. I really want to compete with Rohann this season. Last year he was kind of unchallenged in Montgomery County and 4A West, so I'm really looking to give him a challenge and kind of show him what I've got. The thing about aiming for top two is if you don't quite get there, you're still going to be better off."
Tuesday afternoon's practice was a light hill workout with six to eight 30 to 40 second hill repeats for developing runners and a long run of 40 to 60 minutes for experienced and varsity runners. It was the reverse of the previous day's workout which was a 4x2-mile hill circuit for experienced runners and a long run for developing runners.
B-CC has 104 athletes on its cross country team which is the most ever according to Chad Young. Coaches named ten team captains and assigned each captain to a small group of runners.
Said Coach Emily Young, "It helps make our team a little smaller. We have captains' competitions - little competitions that help them get to know their group members."
The captains' competitions are usually brief strength, fitness or core challenges, but could also be mental challenges like trivia. The point is to get to know one another and definitely to win. The coaches keep score, track the winners, and award prizes at the end of the year.
I witnessed a heated burpy competition, in which ten team representatives competed while teammates cheered them on. Burpees, also known as squat thrusts, begin from a standing position, transition into a squatting position, thrust legs backwards while supporting your upper body with your hands on the ground, return to a squatting position and return to a standing position. In one variation, athletes may extend both arms upwards and hop on the return to the standing position. It is very easy to do one, but it is painful to aim for speed and string dozens in a row. Team Zoe Nuechterlein was represented by Zoe Nuechterlein who completed just under 30 burpees in 60 seconds, the most of anyone on the team. Spectators were not let off the hook and had to complete the 60 second challenge after they thought the excitement was over.
104 athletes on the cross country team also means 104 potential babysitters for Oliver Myles Young who was born on May 11, 2016. The arrival of the newborn kept Coach Emily away from a few track meets last spring, but now coaches Chad and Emily are together again with little Coach Oliver in toe. Aside from coaching cross country and track, Coach Emily will be a full time mommy for at least the time being.