6A Scouting Report: Cullman HS Boys

Cullman HS returns 6 of their top 7 from last year.  (Photo by RiverCat Photography)

1. How many years have you been coaching high school cross country (and at your current school)?
This is my 6th year. All here at Cullman High School. 

2. What do you attribute as the main reasons for the success of your program? 
- athletes willing and even hungry to learn and do the work necessary to continue to improve 
- athletes willing to give great attention to detail
- "family" type culture with appropriate expectations in terms of doing things right in training but also in terms of character (commitment, sacrifice, work ethic, etc.)
- effective team leadership
- role models for success...
There are of course a lot of factors that play into us improving the program from year to year, but the above are some of the foundational ones. 

3. What would be the best way to describe your style and philosophy of coaching and working with high school runners?
I take the science of running and apply it practically for my middle school and high school athletes as well as use this sport to help them grow as people. While I am demanding of them physically and mentally through the training and racing, I am also holding them to a high standard of character. 

4. What are your core beliefs in your training plan and workouts for your cross country squads?
Questions 2-4 could all be answered in many words and I am tempted to do so, but I am going to keep it very brief...

The bottom line is I believe in consistency and knowing the athletes well enough to take them through the consistent training throughout the entire year (all periods of the annual training plan). I believe in giving each athlete what is appropriate for them in terms of volume and intensity and continuing to take the next logical step in training as they progress. I also believe in working through different periods of training where the focus shifts and accomplishes the purpose that is appropriate for that period of time relative to the overarching goal of meeting each individual's peak performance at the planned time. 

5. How many runners do you return from your top 7 from a year ago?

6. Who is your projected top 7 heading into the cross country season?
I have a lot of competition going on right now among my top 10 guys and only time will tell who handles the progression of training the best and puts themselves in a position to be in our consistent top 7. It is very likely to be a revolving door at times since many of them have similar fitness. 

7. Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
Seniors - Tucker Adkison and Eli Wilhite. Mainly by example in regard to the way they go about their work as well as their passion and enthusiam for the team and our goals. 

8. Who have you been most impressed or surprised with their improvement and/or fitness from their summer training?
I don't want to single anybody out here so as not to detract from the fact that most everybody has been putting in their work like they are supposed to this summer and I don't want to overshadow that.

9. Any impactful freshmen or transfers to join the team this season?
No transfers. There is a couple young guys that may have a chance to impact our top 7 (Adam Mangum, Walker Huddleston). 

10. What are the top invitational meets that your team will be attending this season?
Montevallo Twilight, Scottsoboro (it's a pre-sectional for us), Jesse Owens, Dew It on the Trails

11. What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?
Staying focused and maintaining the proper perspective each day 

12. What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?
The above.

13. What is a favorite annual or common pre-season workout or run for your team?
We have a series of workouts (team tempo workout, 400 workout at 5k effort, a specific long run workout) at our team camp in late July that is important to us as well as a team trial in late July. 

14. What is a favorite annual or common mid-season workout for your team?
mile repeats

15. What is a favorite annual or common championship season or end-of-season workout for your team?
Anaerobic work (300's with very short recovery)

16. What are your top 3 goals?
Improving our "family" culture and truly establishing a horizontal totem pole
Establishing a stronger 1-7 than last year (yes, split, but also in regard to racing ability)
Improving our ability to execute certain key training sessions as a team. Raising the bar here.