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Presently speaking

Expectations aside, Golden Valley cross country is focused on the present, not the future

Posted: September 13, 2009 10:25 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley cross country co-head coaches Chris, left, and Rob Evans instruct their runners at practice Wednesday at Golden Valley. The Grizzlies' boys team finished 11th in the state last season and hopes for a return trip.

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Golden Valley’s boys cross country team had a breakthrough season last fall.

Now, the team has a good shot at winning the program’s first Foothill League title — and maybe more.

Could have fooled the Grizzlies.

“One thing we’re happy about is no one’s settled on the success of last year,” said co-head coach Rob Evans. “As much as it satisfied them last year, they’re even hungrier.”

Golden Valley has made a concerted effort during practice to keep its focus on the present, not what’s down the road.

And with good reason.

Dyestatcal.com recently ranked the top 101 boys cross country teams heading into the 2009 season, and five Foothill League teams were included.

The highest-ranked team?

Golden Valley, at No. 32.

“We can’t help but focus, because it’s the only way to maintain any sanity,” Evans said.

Things got pretty insane for Golden Valley in 2008, as the boys team finished 11th at the CIF State Division III Cross Country Championships.

Seth Totten finished fifth overall individually with a time of 15 minutes, 25 seconds.

But even he senses an extraordinary focus this year.

“It feels like a completely different team,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like we’re trying to return to state. It feels like we’re trying to get there.”

Golden Valley’s state success has boosted interest in the program, and Evans said there were around 80 kids out for the team this season.

Five of Golden Valley’s top seven state runners return, and finding the right mix of talent has helped the Grizzlies take their minds off the future.

“We have 12 guys who could be in the top seven,” said co-head coach Chris Evans. “Last year we didn’t find ourselves until the first league meet. This year we’re trying to see who works well together.”

One runner who has stepped up is senior Avery McDougal.

“He’s really made the decision to dedicate himself to running,” Chris Evans said.

With more kids out, the runners have to push themselves more to secure a spot.

The coaches said they want to solidify up to 14 boys for the varsity team.

Not only will it help this year, but it will help the program as a whole.

“Now that we have that depth, kids can see others have success and that’s how programs build themselves,” Rob Evans said.

One might say the girls team is taking that approach.

The girls runners are young and they can look at the boys team for inspiration.

But the coaches don’t hold them to that standard.

“We want to build their reputation and create their own success,” Chris Evans said. “They’re very self-sufficient. They see what the boys have done and they’re feeling much more confident.”

The coaches don’t have specific times or places they want their girls to achieve early in the season, and the same goes for the boys team.

They just want to see who competes.

“We focus day to day and we realize that if we do a good job each day, we’re going to get where we want to be,” Chris Evans said. “We’re still worried about Sept. 9, 10 and 11, and if we do that, we’ll be there in November.”

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