Cross country is, in many ways, an individual sport, but the Mountain Pointe boys and girls squads sure have this teamwork thing – on and away from the course – down pat.
Under the direction of co-head coaches David Allison and Heather Kiser – Allison said both coaches direct both teams – the Pride boys and girls teams are training as one unit, working together on race day as one unit, and supporting each other as one unit, rather than the traditional separation that usually accompanies separate coaches and separate teams.
PHOTO SLIDESHOW: More photos from Doug Conley Invitational That’s never been more apparent than at Saturday’s Doug Conley Invitational meet at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe, where the Mountain Pointe girls varsity team banded together for a 20th place finish overall while the boys came in at 25th as a group.
During the boys race – which following the girls event by about a half hour Saturday – the Mountain Pointe girls huddled together and followed the boys as best they could around the track, finally converging on the finish line to cheer their male teammates on at the tail end of their race.
“I don’t’ know why (teams) don’t put (boys and girls) together,” Allison said. “This is the one sport you can put guys and girls together, and we both coach both teams, it’s not like one of us is the boys coach and one the girls coach.”
Allison said that along with the off-track support, both of his teams have seen success with runners working together out on the course as well, often running in packs and helping pace each other through the traditional three-plus mile circuits.
“You never want to wait for anyone … but sometimes it’s easier to work together until someone can break away and go,” he said.
Allison said that he was pleased with his teams’ finishes, especially considering how young both squads are and how competitive Conley tends to be. While Lindsey Schader is the Pride girls traditional No. 1 runner, it was newcomer Cera Hassinan who brought the most points home for the Pride, taking 39th overall.
“Lindsey was 17th last week at Queen Creek, which is a really good race. She was sick today, so it wasn’t her best day by far. If Lindsey would have ran like she could have, she’d have been in the top 10 or 11. I’m sure of it,” Allison said of Schader, who finished 61st overall with a time of 20:35. “But our second girl Cera, who is just a freshman, ran 20:18, which is very fast for a freshman.”
Allison said he was happy with the progress his boys team has been making, and while he knows it’s not traditional for coaches to look too far ahead, he said he’s excited for how much better his team will probably be by the time the Conley meet comes around next season.
“It’s such a competitive group in this race,” he said. “But we had only one or two guys break 19 (minutes) last year. Today we had three guys break 18 and everyone break 19.
“So we’re kind of stacking the deck for next year for the boys and the girls,” he said.
Connor Donnelly was the first Pride boys finisher at 75th overall (17:18), followed by Victor Iniguez in 92nd, (17:32), Shelby Goodman in 113th (17:53), Tommy Bello in 135th (18:12) and Daniel Riley in 136th (18:13). Jake Sciacca (18:39) and Mark Karlsrud (18:44) rounded out the Mountain Pointe boys varsity competitors.
On the girls side, Ellen Hill was the third Mountain Pointe finisher, behind Hassinan and Schader, and 73rd overall (20:47), while Ashley Cleveland, who finished 102nd (21:22), and Ashley Bohman, who crossed in 166th (24:03), rounded out the scoring positions for Mountain Pointe. Jessica Riley (25:09) and Tori Bahe (26:09) also competed in the varsity race for the Pride girls.