Cross country toughens minds and bodies with new coach

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By Rayming Liang

Originally published on September 19, 2014

Sophomore Sierra Brill (front) and junior Kristen Leung (back) at the start of last season’s Lowell Invitational. Photo by Cate Stern

With last year’s cross country head coach on sabbatical, the team’s former assistant coach strives to train the team for another championship victory.

Chad Chiparo, this year’s head coach, has been a part of the cross country team for five years, and with a new position comes some new responsibilities. “I need to plan daily workouts, warm-ups, cool-downs and core exercises,” Chiparo said. “Most of the runners already know the workouts, so it’s a big help.”

“He makes sure that we don’t injure ourselves and encourages us in a positive way.”

Chiparo is an active runner who has done several marathons and triathlons, and plans on competing in the upcoming Ironman triathlon on Sept. 21 at Lake Tahoe. He practices several techniques on his runs, and his attitude towards running carries into his coaching as well. “Chiparo is a dad-like figure,” junior Amanda Li said. “He makes sure that we don’t injure ourselves and encourages us in a positive way. He always says ‘I know you can do better’, which motivates us.”

To assist Chiparo, senior co-captains Isaiah Abeyta and Sydney Gutierrez help out during practices by starting workouts, leading core exercises, helping newcomers adjust to the team and giving advice to teammates. “Cross country is a team sport,” Abeyta said. “You always want to help teammates to their fullest potential. If you run alone, you are not completely pushing yourself and you are not pushing anyone else to do better.”

Chiparo plans to focus on building up mental toughness to help with running the distances for season meets. “I put them in situations where they need to push themselves when they are tired, such as practicing in our Golden Gate Park course,” Chiparo said. The Golden Gate Park course is almost three miles long, consisting of many hills that challenge runners to keep going despite feeling fatigued.

Senior co-captain Isaiah Abeyta finishes in last year’s season race against Lincoln and Burton at Golden Gate Park. Photo by Huimin Zhang

In addition to mental training, Chiparo also plans to work on physical toughness. The team will work on base skills and increasing the number of miles they run each week. “It’s basically form check and building a base for running, leading up to speed workouts,” Chiparo said. A typical practice begins with a few warm-up laps and stretches, then sets of continuous running followed by a light jog for rest, also known as intervals, or long slow distance runs. After finishing the run, the team ends with core workouts and a cooldown jog.

However, strong practice sessions are not the team’s only asset. The team has many returning members, as well as a good group of recruit, all of whom are committed athletes. “We have a young team,” Chiparo said. “The younger athletes will push everyone to do better due to their running abilities.”

“We are still in high school, but we are trying to prepare them to be college athletes.”

In terms of races, Chiparo will choose the seven runners who will score out of all the Lowell athletes who compete in the same race based on their times in previous meets. “Cross country is a big team race,” Chiparo said. “There are no standouts. One person cannot win a cross country race.”

As for goals, Chiparo aims for another sweep in the All-City championship meet. “We plan on continuing our successes, while trying to enjoy ourselves,” Chiparo said. “We are still in high school, but we are trying to prepare them to be college athletes.”

On Sept. 20 at 9 a.m., the Cardinals will compete in Golden Gate Park for the Lowell Invite, their first meet of the season.