Brighton Runs Its Way to StateOct 31, 2014 02:11PM ● By Michelle Bodkin
The Brighton High boys cross country team had high hopes to win state Oct. 22. Photos courtesy of Mike Zufelt
After a strong fourth-place region finish Oct. 10, the Brighton High boys cross country team, led by Peyte Pullman and Julian Pellman, was headed to state Oct. 22 (after press deadline).
While the girls’ team didn’t qualify as a unit, they still sent two representatives in Brittany Clark and Claudia Caton to compete.
The success the Bengals have seen in 2014 is all due in part to the team’s dedication and hard work, according to coach Mike Zufelt.
“They are a fun team,” Zufelt explained. “They have worked hard and ran all summer long prior to the school year. They would get up in the mornings and run. We had some weekend runs, and we had a high altitude training camp at the end of August just before school started. We’ve been training hard six days a week to this point.”
Cross country is not a sport for the faint of heart. Zufelt said that in order to be any good you have to be self-motivated and you have to work hard during practices: two traits the Bengals possess.
“They spend at least two to three hours a day doing actual training, and then are always watching their diet just like any athlete would,” Zufelt said. “They try to eat nutritiously and keep hydrated. During the school year, some of them will get up in the morning and run prior to school, and, then after school, we practice for a couple of hours every day. Then we usually have meets and things on Saturdays.”
While the team trains hard, Zufelt stressed the importance of making sure to keep things light and fun, especially since the team consists mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
“A lot of times we will have fun runs, so we’ll go to a place that is fun,” he said. “We’ll find fun routes like run around a river bend or in the mountains. We’ll maybe have an Otter Pop at the half-way point to keep it fun and keep them interested.”
A cross country race is close to a 5k in distance and is usually run on a grassy, hilled course such as a park or golf course.
To prepare for state, Zufelt said it’s all about sharpening team members’ skills and keeping their legs fresh heading into the competition.
“If we keep training hard, we are not going to be able to pace as quickly at state. So for right now we are just sharpening and running a little bit quicker, but not as long. More intensity with less duration,” he said.