Tuesday, June 23, 2015

XC Info: Frequently Asked Questions

With the summer upon us and cross country around the corner there are some important things to know heading into the upcoming season.

Who can participate in cross country?
Anyone can come out for cross country at any time. Our team philosophy is to introduce the sport to as many as possible and to promote an appreciation for lifetime fitness. 

Are there cuts?
The great thing about running is everyone gets to participate. Cross Country is a "non-cut" sport, which means if you come to practice on a daily basis, work hard and run in our scheduled races you make the team.  It is also important to realize that cross country is a full time commitment and will involve sacrificing things that you love. It is often said that "commitment is not convenient" and deciding to join the team should not be done hastily; it is important that each athlete count the cost and commit to finishing what they start.

Who makes Varsity?
The top 7 runners make up the Varsity team.  Athletes may move up and down from JV to Varsity depending on the needs of the team and the improvement of the runner. 

What do you wear to practice?
Shorts, Shirt, Socks, Shoes and watch are required! Running shoes can be purchased at any specialty running store as well as department stores. Breathable shoes like adidas, Asics, etc are recommended and allow the proper support needed when running on the trails. On hot days athletes should bring a water bottle, cold days athletes should bring sweats. 

When are the practices?
We practice Monday through Friday from 2:45 to 5:30 pm and also on Saturday mornings when we do not have a race.  Some practice may be moved to early morning or evening due to weather conditions. A master practice schedule will be sent out at the start of the season and any updates will be e-mailed weekly.  

Please note: while we welcome all athletes, attendance is mandatory. Athletes must be disciplined and manage your time effectively to honor your commitment to the team.  A wise parent once told me, "If you want to bad enough you will find a way."  Talk to your teammates and coaches to help you get to and from practice!

Where does the Cross Country team practice?
Most of our practices will be held off campus at various trails and parks in the South Bay. We take every precaution to assure your son or daughter’s safety: coaches run with the team and we welcome any parent volunteers who are interested in joining us. Safety measures will be discussed at the start of the season, all students are instructed to always run with a partner and never run alone! You can find a list of the most common places we run under the "Places We Run" link on the top of the page.

How do athletes get to Practice?
A posted bus schedule will be available on the team blog and sent in weekly e-mail correspondence.  We will have a round trip bus to our practice sites.  Parents are welcome to pick up their son or daughter at the location listed at 5:15 pm, however any athlete not picked up by the bus departure must return to school, even if the parents are in route. It is strongly encouraged that parents and athletes arrange a carpool with those who live in the same area.  

Where do they race?
Different schools host races at different locations. Please see the schedule posted online on the team’s page at www.gowarriors.net and our team blog at www.vcrunning.com. 

Who do they race against?
We will race against various schools, mostly from Northern California. Some races will host teams from around the nation and must meet qualifying times to enter. Athletes race in divisions based on ability, grade and gender. 

How long is the race?
Races are 2-3 miles in length and vary in difficulty. 

What time are the races?
Each race has a different start time. Races on the weekend are generally in the morning, weekday races usually have a 2 pm or later start. 

How does my child get to the race?
We have round trip busses to and from the race. Athletes are required to travel with the team to the race unless arranged prior to race day with the coach. Athletes may go home with their parent at the end of their race but must check out with the head coach before they leave. Students returning to the school for pick-up will call on the way home to give an estimated pick-up time. If you cannot pick up your child on time please arrange a carpool with another parent. 

Is running an individual or team sport?
Cross Country is a team of individuals. We try to focus on as much as the team aspect of cross country as possible. This means that at times an athlete may need to compete at a higher grade level (athletes are allowed to compete against older athletes, but cannot move “down” a grade level). In general, the top 7 fastest runners on a team are considered Varsity regardless of grade. 

What do they wear in races?
You will purchase your uniform in the team's spirit pack (returning runners only will need to purchase items that need to be replaced).  They are top of the line performance singlets used by collegiate and professional runners. The cost is about $30 for the top, $30 for the shorts and the athletes will keep them for future use. This singlet is also the uniform to be used in Track & Field.

What are the team rules?
Team rules will be discussed at the start of the season and at the parent meeting in August.  Here are a few things we will be stressing this season: 
  • Athletes are expected to participate in all practices.  Inconsistent attendance increases the risk of injury and hurts the team's performance. 
  • Athletes who are entered in invitationals will confirm entry approximately 2-weeks before the event. Confirmed athletes who do not race will not be allowed to compete in the next race and expected to reimburse entry fees.

When does Cross Country start?
Summer conditioning starts in June and continues through the end of summer.  The first day of practice is August 16.  All athletes must have a physical, concussion form and the "parental permission to play" forms on file in the athletic office before you are cleared to practice.

What is the team philosophy?
We believe that everyone on the team has a role and can give something to the team.  Some it may be by winning races, others leadership, others a strong work ethic.  Each person is an intricate part of the team and has an important role.  As a member of the Warrior Cross Country program you have chosen to challenge yourself and your teammates to use your God-given talent and passion to bring glory to God! You have agreed to push yourself and always strive for excellence. Most importantly you have accepted the challenge to be an upstanding student-athlete in the sports community and be Christ-like in all you do.

If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Coach Small at joshsmall@gmail.com

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mercury News Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Valley Christian's Elena Bruckner


20150617__SJM-PREPGTRACK-0618~1_GALLERYBy Glenn Reeves 
greeves@bayareanewsgroup.com
SJMN Article: CLICK HERE

It was simply an incredible track and field season for Elena Bruckner.

The Valley Christian junior broke the Central Coast Section record in the girls shot put and girls discus. And not by just a little.

Bruckner hurled the discus 182 feet, 8 inches at the West Catholic Athletic League finals. It was a personal-best by 20 feet and shattered the section record that stood since 1996 by nearly 17 feet.

Two weeks later, she went nearly three feet further than any girls shot putter in CCS history with a mark of 53-51/2 at the section finals.

In addition to setting CCS standards in both throws, she also led the nation in each.

Bruckner didn't come close to matching those marks at the state meet -- she won the shot put at 50-21/2 and took third in the discus (147-9) -- but her breakthrough performances made it a pretty easy decision to name Bruckner the Mercury News girls track and field athlete of the year.

The amount she improved this season was simply off the charts. Heading into her junior year she had bests of 46-111/2 in the shot put and 129-1 in the discus.

She improved by a stunning 53 feet in the discus. And yet she said that throw of 182-8 at the WCAL finals was far from perfect.

She fouled on her first two throws and had to get a legal throw just to advance to the next round. She did that and then threw 153 on her fourth throw. She broke the CCS record with a mark of 171-9 on her fifth attempt.

So she let it loose on her final throw and the disc sailed 182-8."I knew the best throw in the nation was 172, and I was so close," Bruckner said.

Everything must have been perfect. Right?

"It really wasn't," Bruckner said. "I threw it real low and at first I wasn't sure if it was going to stay in the sector. It was not a super good technical throw."

The national records of 56-81/4 in the shot put and 198-9 in the discus are now in Bruckner's sights. Both could fall if Bruckner improves even a fraction as much as she did this year.

"Absolutely,'' Bruckner said when asked if the desire to break the national records would provide motivation. "It would be an amazing way to go out and set me up to be successful in college, maybe in the Olympic trials next year."

Bruckner is not a year-round thrower. She said she will play volleyball for Valley Christian again as a senior but will no longer take part in club volleyball.

"She is such a blessing for our team," Valley Christian coach Josh Small said. "She has such a great maturity and such a humble attitude. With her, it's always less about individual accomplishment and more about the team and how she can elevate others.''

All-Mercury News
  • Sprinter of year: Jade Harrison, Cupertino, junior
  • Hurdler of year: Maya Miklos, Gunn, junior
  • Distance runner of year: Lizzie Lacy, Menlo School, senior
  • Horizontal jumper of year: Rachael Estell, Mountain View, sophomore
  • Vertical jumper of year: Kathryn Mohr, Menlo-Atherton, junior
  • Throwers of year: Elena Bruckner, Valley Christian, junior; Ronna Stone, Valley Christian, senior

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stone & Bruckner Win State Titles; Valley Christian Finishes Second in Team Standings

IMG_3748Clovis, CA – For the first time in fifteen years and just the third time in the 100 year history of the CIF Championships, teammates stood on the podium as State Champions for the shot put and the discus. It was a historic day for the Valley Christian Warriors that not only saw Elena Bruckner and Ronna Stone win state titles but also finish second in the state in the team standings.

[DyestatCal Video Interview: Bruckner & Stone] 

DISCUS

Ronna Stone's journey to the top of the podium is not one without challenges. A two-sport athlete, Stone played basketball her first three years of high school and would often miss the first 6-weeks of training due to late runs in the playoffs.  Her talent was apparent from the beginning, throwing 36-2 in the shot put as a freshman she went on to qualifying for the State both her sophomore and junior years n the event.

Once it was time for Track she was all in. The first two years emphasis was on the shot put but last year Stone began to find success in the discus. Not breaking 100 feet until her junior year the improvement is impressive: over 70 feet in two years. 2014 was a breakout year, ending the season as the top ranked discus thrower in the section. However the first big challenge came at the CCS Championship where she failed to advance to the State meet finishing fifth in the CCS Championship. It was a defining moment.

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Working hard in the off-season Stone came into the 2015 season fit and with a purpose.  Opening with a personal best in her season debut, she went on to show steady improvement throughout the season. Finishing second in the Arcadia Invitational, she climbed the state rankings. The momentum continued through to the WCAL Championship. While Bruckner went on to throw the national leading mark of 182-8, what the results didn't show is a huge throw from Stone that sailed just left of the sector. That momentum carried into the post-season where Stone finished atop the standings in the CCS Trials and went on to win her first CCS title.

Ronna Stone saved her best for last.

Entering the state final the title was up for grabs. After a strategic and conservative first throw (to assure advancing to the top nine final) Stone moved into the lead with a second round throw of 155 feet, 5 inches. That throw would hold as the winner, but it was not her furthest. Entering the ring already the Champion there was nothing to lose. Released perfectly, the crowd reaction told the story: it was going to be a good one. It was her last throw in her last meet and it was also her best: 161 feet, 9 inches.

While Stone was leading and looking strong things were not so certain for Elena Bruckner. Dealing with a back issue the last three weeks of the season she was frustrated after the first set of three throws. "It's not so much the pain as it is I just can't do anything," Bruckner revealed.

The national leader in the event, she has been battling a sore back for the past three weeks which proved to be a huge handicap in the twisting, spinning event. Thinking of the upcoming shot put where Bruckner was a heavy favorite, Coach Rolle considered not taking any more throws and saving it for the next event. She wasn't having it, went into the final rounds and sent it out 154-9, just 8 inches off the lead. Her efforts would prove clutch in the team standings.

"I'm not making excuses," Bruckner later told Glenn Reeves of the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm trying to deal with the circumstances."

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SHOT PUT

MileSplitCA made the "Not-So-Bold Prediction" that Elena Bruckner would win the shot put and rightfully so, entering the state meet she was undefeated in the event and the national leader. Entering the state meet with a personal best over four feet from the nearest competitor she embraced the role as the heavy favorite.

But like Stone, the journey to the top has not been without plenty of obstacles to overcome. A two-sport athlete herself, Bruckner is a varsity volleyball player in the fall and has also played on a club team simultaneously. It was important for her to honor her commitment to her club team through the end of the summer which meant long days. Battling tightness in her back these last few weeks it took more of a toll in the discus. Bruckner the week prior hit a CCS record 53-5.5 in the shot put setting her apart from the field.

[Elena Bruckner Interview with Glenn Reeves]

Bruckner finished their freshman year with a mark of 36-2 in the shot put. Since that inaugural season Bruckner has flourished, improving nearly ten feet over the next year she finished fourth in the State as a sophomore and set herself out as the one to watch the next season.  But it was her season debut of 49-0 that sent the message she was a serious contender for the state title.

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Entering the state final a heavy favorite Bruckner found herself in a back and forth battle with Nia Britt of Notre Dame (SS) through the first two rounds. She knew it wasn't going to be easy, but there was little doubt a big one was coming. And it did. Her third throw that stood as the winner, a mark of 50-2.5.

"Last year I set the goal of throwing over 50 feet to win the state meet so getting that mark added validation to whole season," Bruckner said.

Coming off a state championship can put you in a good mood, but for Stone there was business to attend to. In the running for the team championship every point was vital. It was her third trip to the state meet and her first to make the shot put final. Finishing eighth with a throw of 43-1.5, those points helped secure the Warriors second place finish as a team.

[CIF track and field: Valley Christian's Elena Bruckner, Ronna Stone win girls throw titles]

The motivation to perform well was entirely driven to excel as a team. Scoring 27 points with just two athletes the Warriors moved from 5th to 2nd by the conclusion of the Shot Put. Representing over 40 athletes back home, hoisting the trophy after the meet proved to be the highlight of the evening.

Links: Results / PicsSJMN

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Photojournalistic Journey from Day 1 of the CIF Track & Field Championships

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Ronna Stone is competing in her third CIF Championship and is moving on to Saturday's finals, qualifying in both the discus and the shot put. CCS Champion in the discus, Stone enters with a personal best of 158-10 and is seeded #3 heading into the finals.


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Elena Bruckner owns the furthest discus throw of the nation this year (182-2) and moves onto the CIF Finals in the discus as the #2 seed. The Junior is competing in her second CIF Championship.


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Ronna Stone advances to the Shot Put final as the 10th seed. Her personal best 44-9 ranks seventh in the state this season.

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Elena Bruckner enters the State Final as the top seed throwing 49-11.5 in the trials. Bruckner is a two-time CCS Champion in the event and enters with a personal best 53-5.5, which is the top throw in the nation this year.