New Coaches Leading Cross to Perform
October 1, 2014
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They are usually triathlete-trainers, but recently when the position for head coach of Dos Pueblos’s Cross Country team opened up, they sprinted for the job.
Coaches Bob Wilcher and Kyle Visin typically train ameteur, and occasionally professional, triathletes (including English teacher Monica Kaplan here on campus) at Killer B Fitness by the Turnpike shopping center, but this year they got interested in teaching younger generations of athletes.
Wilcher was an active kid in high school, playing baseball to basketball and anything in between. His love of sports eventually lead him to graduate college with a degree in chiropractics and learn about the human body.
After graduating, Wilcher ran a marathon and hurt his knee. Upon looking into his injury, he found out that his running form needed work. And after a couple years of practice, he had improved significantly and decided to help fix people’s form and train people who wanted to be better athletes.
Likewise, Visin played a lot of sports as a kid, but didn’t start running until he graduated from UCSB with an engineering degree. But soon he took up running and became a triathlete, competing in over 50 triathlons and placing second in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2012. When he came back to Santa Barbara though, he decided that his true passion was “coaching and endurance sports. I absolutely love helping people achieve their goals,” he said.
In the end, their common interests for running and helping others lead them to DP and the Cross Country team.
“I had some amazing and influential coaching when I was growing up who helped shape who I am today. So now that the role has been reversed I hope to return that favor,” said Visin.
So far this training season, they have been focusing on running form since form is “the key to running better and faster,” as the coaches have emphasized.
“If you neglect running technique, there is absolutely no way an athlete can achieve their true potential,” said Visin.
Wilcher touched a on his experience with technique in an email:
“I had a seventh grade basketball coach who made us practice at least 20 minutes a day on the technique of shooting a basketball. I remember spending much of my time against the wall focusing on follow through and visualizing the ball going in the basket…. But what I learned was that all our hard work made us the most dominating team in the league. This was the start of my obsession with technique.”
The transition from running heel-toe (or heel-striking) to midfoot/forefoot technique wasn’t all that easy, but the team has gotten to warm up to it.
“At first I didn’t really like the formwork, but now it’s better and definitely helps a lot,” said Josh McGregor, a freshman, who is currently holds the number two spot on the varsity team. He ran 15:34 over the three mile course at the recent Seaside invitational.
Similarly to McGregor, Shane Messner, a junior, said, “I was a little ‘iffy’ about the coaches and their form work. I thought we were just going to be doing drills most of the time, but it’s definitely helped me a lot. The speed work, which I really like, and the new running technique has made me get way faster times than I expected. The coaches have definitely helped me this season.”
Now that the team is in the racing season, they’re adding more quality workouts to hone racing skills, trying to raise the breaking-point to race much faster and smarter.
After the Seaside Invitational on Sept. 5, the team has shown a lot of promise, said Visin.
“I’m extremely proud of the dedication the team has shown,” said Visin. “We had a large portion of our team including all of our top runners attending practices consistently over the summer.”
“I was very pleased with how the team performed at our first meet of the season. It was a great indication of how we will perform this year.”
Boys’ coach Micks Purnell, a senior coach in the program, agrees, saying that Wilcher and Visin have been coaching well, helping everyone to perform to the best of their abilities. Purnell has been helping formulate workout plans and giving runners tips and guidance at practices, as he has for several years under several head coaches, and first introduced the team to Visin and Wilcher last year.
The new coaches have had positive impacts on the team and continue to radiate positivity to everyone they meet.
“They both are really into helping the team get better and they bring a positive attitude to practice everyday. I love it,” said Allison Larinan, a sophomore.