There really is no “off-season” in high school sports anymore, especially for a sport like cross-country.
PHS head coach Kathy Hitz has been holding thrice-weekly workouts for her prospective squad that began the first week of June. In addition, the harriers have been hitting the weight room three days a week as well.
The workouts last most of the summer, with Coach Hitz planning to give her kids somewhat of a breather in August—allowing the kids to recharge their batteries before the season begins in earnest with the start of school.
“Sometimes I think the kids just need a break from me,” Hitz laughed. “But we have families going on vacations and things like that. It’s just a good time for us to lay off the routine for a little while.”
“Although, a lot of times, kids will continue to get together on their own even if we aren’t having formal team workouts,” she added.
“The summer is the time when we build our ‘base’,” Hitz explained. “It allows us to get into our fartlek and interval workouts sooner once school starts. We can start our race training earlier in the season this way, and not have to worry about ‘getting in shape’ first.”
In June, the training was mostly just distance runs, in July some hill training has been added, in addition to the weight lifting.
Hitz has about a dozen boys and ten girls that have been attending summer workouts regularly, with a good mix of experience and youth on both teams.
One positive addition to USD 382 crosscountry was the start of a crosscountry program at Liberty Middle School for the coming year. “We have been working on this for a couple of years,” Hitz said. “There have been some issues with LMS and PHS belonging to different leagues and things like that. But we’re starting to get some of that worked out now.”
There will be an additional coach added to the staff to head up the middlers, but that position has not yet been filled. The middlers will wear LMS track uniforms, so there will be no additional expense there.
Scheduling is not yet complete, but with several high school meets that PHS attends featuring middle school races, the middlers may even be able to travel at times with the high schoolers, helping keep down transportation expenses. It should be a program that provides numerous benefits at a minimal cost to USD 382.
“This is a new program, so all the questions haven’t been answered yet,” Hitz remarked. “Our goal here is to give kids exposure to the sport of distance running at an earlier age. We are wanting them to be able to get a taste of it, have a good experience, have some success, and it should make our high school team stronger down the road.”
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