Brighton cross country already off and running
Aug 28, 2017 09:33AM
● By Jana Klopsch
The Brighton cross-country team, led by new head coach Angie Welder, is ready to make a run for state accolades. (Angie Welder/Brighton cross country)
Josh McFadden | [email protected]
In a sport where you’re constantly moving, it shouldn’t be a surprise that preparation for the cross-country season rarely takes much of a break.
First-year Brighton cross-country coach Angie Welder has hit the ground running as well, taking the helm of a program that she said already has many pieces in place for success.
The Bengals are just getting their regular season underway, but the squad spent the summer running four days a week. Some team members even ran on their own outside of practice time.
“Building that summer base is critical to starting off the fall season strong and healthy,” Welder said. “We consistently had 30 to 40 kids show up every single day in the summer to run. That tells you a lot about this team’s dedication. Now that fall is getting underway, these kids are anxious to step up their training, refine their skills and log more miles. They’re ready to race. All the miles they banked this summer will help them start and finish the meets feeling strong and confident.”
Welder took the job as cross-country coach unsure of what lay in store. It didn’t take her long to realize it wouldn’t be a full-scale rebuilding job from scratch.
“I very quickly realized that we have an excellent group of returning athletes,” she said. “Specifically, our group of senior girls have displayed not only excellent leadership skills but outstanding work ethic, natural athleticism and determination.”
Morgan Mehrley is the team’s captain. Welder is impressed with her initiative to lead by example, even by the little things such as getting people warmed up. She also has great speed, which, naturally, comes in handy in the sport.
The rest of the boys and girls teams consist of a blend of experienced returners and some promising newcomers.
“We have some brand-new junior and senior varsity athletes participating this year that bring outstanding ability and enthusiasm to the team,” Welder said. “However, our varsity squad isn’t limited to seniors and juniors. We have some freshmen and sophomores who are more than capable of running varsity this year. They work hard and make a huge contribution to this team. It will be exciting to watch them grow and progress.”
This combination excites Welder, not just because it will go a long way in helping the team be competitive this season, but it bodes well for the future, as well.
“We have a lot of diversity in the number of boys and girls represented as well as upper- and under-classmen,” she said. “We have a large group of talented incoming freshmen that will help Brighton cross country remain competitive in upcoming years.”
As she begins her tenure as Brighton’s coach, Welder is focusing on basics such as endurance, speed and form. She also acknowledges the cerebral side of the sport such as focus and mental toughness.
Welder also has a unique approach to coaching. She doesn’t necessarily get caught up in wins and losses; she is concerned about effort and improvement.
“While it would be great to participate in the state finals, there is much more that defines a successful season,” she said. “To me, a successful season is one in which the runners have put in the day-to-day work, got out of their comfort zone, supported each other and have improved with every meet. In addition, distance running requires just as much mental training as physical training. It’s a sport about patience. Breaking through a plateau and developing the mental toughness required to perform to the best of your ability takes a lot of practice.”
Still, the first-year coach sees no reason why her squad can’t qualify as a team for the state meet.
“I cannot wait to watch every athlete give it their all and see how the season unfolds,” she said.