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 Team Running - High School - College - Club
 Congrats to East Aurora!!!
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DHUE

121 Posts

Posted - December 01 2012 :  15:15:25  Show Profile
Huge congrats goes out to Walt, Marty and the Girls from EA on their 4th place finish at today's Nike XC Nationals. Sitting out Feds just another smart move by a very smart coach. Great job Guys!!!

jeanne

233 Posts

Posted - December 04 2012 :  10:48:24  Show Profile
Congrats!! Awesome team!! Awesome coaches!! Thank you for representing WNY so proudly!

jeanne
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autisticfather

319 Posts

Posted - December 04 2012 :  17:21:09  Show Profile
I was hoping some of the champs (from East Aurora) could come on this forum and fill us in on their experiences.
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autisticfather

319 Posts

Posted - January 10 2013 :  10:01:19  Show Profile
Is there any reason why certain schools such as Clarence, East Aurora and others are always at the top of the rankings ? A large number of schools probably have excellent coaching and something in the way of a community youth program.
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jeanne

233 Posts

Posted - January 10 2013 :  13:40:41  Show Profile
Why do other programs pale in comparison? Speaking from personal experience:lack of administrative support of our program,no modified/developmental programs for young runners, restictions on or lack of training facilities, budget constraints for our sport, etc. Need I go on? It is frustrating!!

jeanne
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JF

2688 Posts

Posted - January 11 2013 :  18:08:56  Show Profile
Cross Country is a reputation sport, always has been. It is also a large suburban sport where professionals live. The poorer the economics of an area, USUALLY the poorer the cross country program. Look at Lackawanna----they don't even have a cross country team.

East Aurora has always been a great program, and they have always had a good coaching line. Walt Lyons was there for a long time, and Walt McLaughlin, a former runner under Lyons is now there. In many districts, the cross country coaching usually goes to the young person who is trying to score points so they can eventually get tenure.

Grand Island had Bessel for 30 plus years and he built a great foundation. Sweet Home had Roesch, Jr. and they were always in contention. Lockport had Main, ditto. Even Niagara Falls HS, from the mid 1970s to the later 1980s under Bongiovanni were very good. The 1982 team won the Federation title.

The suburban schools have an advantage. The parents who live there are more likely to be runners, and hence, so are their kids. How many parents are out "jogging" in the cities and tougher suburbs? Probably more smokers than runners and joggers. Am I typecasting a bit? Yes, but it is more true than false.

Lastly, you have to have a passionate coach who has to work in the school district. Bessel was a high school math teacher. He was always in the halls looking for talent, asking skinny kids if they were involved in athletics. It's no different than the football coach asking the 275 pound kid to try out for football, or the basketball coach asking the 6-4 kid to play some hoops.

You have to LOOK for people and maybe find a diamond in the rough. A great example was Ralph "Rocco" Perri in 1983 at Niagara Falls. Perri went to Trott Vocational and played basketball. He was 5-7, quick as hell and a good defender and decent ball handler. He was a terrible shooter with terrible form, too. But, when the team did their running, he killed the rest of the team. Dan Venuto was the basketball coach. He called Bongiovanni, the CC coach and health teacher at Niagara Falls HS and told him to get Perri on the team. Perri wasn't even attending Niagara Falls High. Perri went out for the team and was an immediate sensation. He became the first runner to break 12:00 on Grand Island's 2.5 mile course and finished 8th at the Class A 1983 State Meet. He also posted 4:17 and 9:17 times for the 1600 and the 3200 meter runs and went to Houston, where he did well in CC and track. The point is that Venuto had a vision and though Perri could be a decent runner. He went above and beyond because Perri went to a different school (he was able to run at NFHS because Trott obviously had not CC team).

You also have to have PE teachers who are scouting for talent. In 9th grade, I did pretty well in a running unit and the PE teacher basically told me that I should try out for cross country the next fall. I took his advice and 31 years later, am still a runner.

I do agree with Jeanne assessment that you need ADs who care about CC, but for the most part, CC is not an expensive sport, but it is not a sport that has a natural draw like soccer, baseball, basketball and football does. The good programs find the good runners, the bad ones put up a flyer and hope they get enough kids to field a full team.

XXIV
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mcgoo

374 Posts

Posted - January 11 2013 :  19:00:49  Show Profile
IMO Coaching, coaching, coaching in high school is the key. And I don't mean merely from an "Xs and Os" standpoint. A dynamic, passionate, knowledgeable coach, usually (but not always) one who learned same from a dynamic, passionate, knowledgeable high school and/or college coach, can turn a program around amazingly fast. Get the word out, get the kids out, get them interested, have fun, get them in shape, show them the amazing things they can accomplish and you will hook them and their parents on the sport and word will spread like wildfire throughout the school in 1, 2, 3 years max, no matter the size of the school. IMO cross country is particularly amenable to this approach. The East Aurora "model" is the perfect example of this IMO, but there are many more.
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JF

2688 Posts

Posted - January 12 2013 :  10:34:50  Show Profile
I agree with McGoo---but a good modified coach can help,too. AT Grand Island, we had Mike Manzo, a 9 minute per mile runner on his best day, but he coached the middle schoolers for 20 plus years. He got them hooked and then Bessel took them and further developed them in high school.

XXIV
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mcgoo

374 Posts

Posted - January 12 2013 :  14:49:21  Show Profile
I should have included modified coaches, because, as we all know, many times a distance runner's first experience with a coach is a lasting one, good and bad. Having good modified coaching is a bonus for the public schools who have it, unlike some of us distance runners who grew up in the Catholic grammar school setting, where modified xc and track did not exist back in the dark ages (many have it now) and high school was our first bite at the apple....
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