Name: Gus Hembree
School: Pisgah High School
1. How many years have you been coaching high school cross country (and at your current school)?
I have been at Pisgah 13 years and have coached XC 23 years
2. What do you attribute as the main reasons for the success of your program?
I have been blessed with a combination of support from the administration, other sport coaches and parents. The expectations from all of these are set high. Our kids understand there is a level we are supposed to compete.
3. What would be the best way to describe your style and philosophy of coaching and working with high school runners?
My description of my style and my runner's description will be very different! I am a combination of old school in your face and team-first attitude.
4. What are your core beliefs in your training plan and workouts for your cross country squads?
We are a low mileage philosophy team and focus heavily on technique. I am a firm believer in the Pose method of running proposed by Dr. Nicholas Romanov.
5. How many runners do you return from your top 7 from a year ago?
We will have 9 of our top 10 runners returning for the girls and 8 of the top ten on the boys.
6. Who is your projected top 7 heading into the cross country season?
Girls: Nevaeh Evans (8) Rhylie Bell (12) Emma Sisk (9) Kayana Stewart (8) Jazimine Wilson (12) Riley Grider (10) Laily Brown (8) Boys Tristan Little (10) Bob Johnson (10) Mason Overdear (11) Brodie Overdear (8) Brody Ferguson (11) Manny Elizondo (8) It will be a tight battle between Bryant Overdear (12) and Koen Smith (8) for the 7th spot.
7. Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
Bryant Overdear and Alex Elizondo for the boys and Rhylie Bell for the girls. These seniors have been huge this summer in organizing team activities and "off" day running.
8. Who have you been most impressed or surprised with their improvement and/or fitness from their summer training?
Manny and Koen have grown up this summer and are much improved from last year. They have bought in and are doing all the little things they need to improve and be competitive this season. Kayana and Laily have improved as well. That being said. This has been one of our best summers in a while as far as work ethic and dedication to summer work outs.
9. Any impactful freshmen or transfers to join the team this season?
No transfers and all 9th ran in state last year as 8th graders
10. What are the top invitational meets that your team will be attending this season?
We will run in the Chickasaw Trials, Southern Showcase and Pisgah Invitational. We will see some of the top runners in the state at these meets.
11. What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?
Staying healthy!! We have a small team a one injury affects our team greatly.
12. What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?
My seniors. They have created a winning attitude among the younger runners and are setting high standards for them to achieve. They push the team members at every practice. Also, the lesson learned at the SWMO running camp we attended this summer in Missouri.
13. What is a favorite annual or common pre-season workout or run for your team?
We focus on building to 6 miles and then working on doing those 6 miles a little faster each week but still maintaining an easy run.
14. What is a favorite annual or common mid-season workout for your team?
We will do 1K repeats with a 2 min recovery. It is a hard work out, but has helped our kids the last couple of seasons.
15. What is a favorite annual or common championship season or end-of-season workout for your team?
We will focus on interval work at the end of the season to hit our peak phase as sectionals and state get close.
16. What are your top 3 goals for this year's squad?
Our goals never change. Use XC as a preparation for life's ups and downs, build lasting memories and friendships and be competitive in the tough 1A/2A state meet.