Coaches Corner - Dr. Shelley Armstrong
Monday, September 24, 2007

Our first meet at Louisiana Tech, a coach’s perspective.

-written by Dr. Shelley Armstrong, Centenary Cross Country Coach


After the warm up, stretching, and drill routine, I meet together with my runners for the final pre-race team prayer, last words of advice, and remind them of our 2007 team-chosen mantra:  “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” (T.S. Elliot).  


As the runners head to the starting line, I am as excited and as nervous as they are.  They have a race plan, and so do I.  A great thing about Cross Country is that the coaches and spectators don’t stay in one place, but follow the action.  We separate shortly before the gun goes off.  Then I scramble through trails and trees to get to the first mile spot to call splits; I do the same for the consecutive miles. 


On this day in particular, we were blessed with cooler weather; ideal for a September meet in Louisiana.  Even then, I’m sweating and my heart is pounding as the race goes on.  Occasionally I yell out, “Move up!  Kick it in the next gear!” to a runner that is not racing to his or her potential.  But overall I’m thrilled with their performances. 


There were several highlights of this race in particular.  King of the day was sophomore Adam Nerio who led the Gents for the first time in his Centenary running career and sustained a 5:34 pace for the 4 mile race.  Nerio improved his race pace by over 30 seconds per mile from last season.  In my book- a runner that improves wins; and the greater the progress, the bigger the victory.  The race run by Nerio on Saturday brought so much joy to my heart that as he handed me his score card, I hugged his sweaty being with all I had.  He laughed and said, “Uh, thanks Coach”!  That moment made all my work worthwhile.  He is a living example that by being persistent and having good work habits, you can climb to the top of the mountain. 


William Fell, Adam Walton, Michael Haydel, Gerrit Moeller, and Saul Castenada all contributed significantly to the team’s success in beating ULM, ULL, NSU, and LA College. 


Highlights of the ladies’ race included a dynamic performance by freshman Natalie Holcomb, placing 13th overall.  Our senior and leader, Lori VonPingel, remains solid as a rock and came in 3 seconds behind Holcomb, maintaining a 6:33 pace.  Newcomers Laura Way and Ashley Fallin, and sophomore Cara Miccoli, provided much needed depth and competition for the team to outrun LA Tech, McNeese, and LA College.  


My men’s team is a tight-knit group and they always strive to better themselves and the team-standing.  The women have some work to do in terms of unifying and understanding that individual effort determines team performance.  With only one race down, and six weeks of training and racing until the Conference Meet, I am nothing but optimistic of our growth and potential.