New Cross Country Coach Brings Atmosphere of Excellence


Jack Malcolm

Coach Taylor, Ethan Ball, Cole Chalhub, Christopher Eckart, and Chloe Ruppert ice their feet after a long run. Please excuse the sweaty picture.

It’s Thursday afternoon at 5:00. Sixteen sweaty teenagers sit with their feet in ice buckets, chocolate milk mustaches adorning their upper lips. They sit together and debate which football league is better: college or NFL. On another day the conversation focuses on where the team might go eat after the meet on Saturday.

Anyone watching can see both the smiles at the conversation and the grimaces from the ice bucket immersion. Tomorrow the team will again be together, but this time it will be in the Commons for a pre-meet pasta dinner.

This is exactly what the new Cross Country coach, Jeff Taylor wants.

Coach Jeff Taylor and his strategies are new to ODA Cross Country. Along with the fun, Taylor has also introduced a very strict, yet well-planned training regimen. He has the team taking fitness classes together, working with the school’s strength trainer Rod Miller, running on a man-made hill called Celery Fields, and running six miles or more for practice outside the school throughout the week.

Jeff Taylor has plenty of experience with running which contributes to his success as coach. He has been a runner since high school and was very successful. In his senior year he topped his school’s record in the 800M Dash. After high school Coach Taylor began working at a running store, organizing training groups, and coaching high school cross country teams in Ohio. He even coached a state champion runner on his previous team. Coach Taylor loves coaching kids and helping them get hooked on running and succeed with it.

Taylor explicitly states that he expects the team to cut down their times significantly and begin to finish top three at each meet. He expects that the team moves on from districts to the regional meet.

“I think that Coach Taylor’s training plan and intensity is a step in the right direction for ODA Cross Country. He is helping us build our program from the ground up and we are already seeing major improvements from previous seasons,” says Junior Cole Chalhub, captain of the Varsity team.

The Girls Varsity captain Carling Landeche has similar sentiments.

“Coach Taylor has been a great addition to the coaching staff, and has worked us very hard. While some practices seem rough, the end results are very promising. I cannot wait to see how far we go with the amazing coaching of Coach Taylor.”

The changes in the team are paying off. At the G.T. Bray Invitational race on Labor day the varsity boys team finished third out of fifteen teams, and the girls varsity team also ran very well although they were not able to field a large enough team to score in the meet.

“We are definitely trying to become a better team, but also we are trying to be a little bit more competitive. I think when we understand the team concept and we all operate as one, I think the competitive nature of these guys and these gals will come,” says Taylor.

Coach Taylor sees the team’s ability to succeed if they begin to work as one. Everything that he has done with the team has been centered around having the runners buy into the idea that Cross Country is a team sport.

As a runner on the team I can say that both the girls and boys teams are all-in for the team this year. With the guidance of Coach Taylor, we now hang out together outside of practice and school more than other years, and we run together in both practices and meets encouraging each other along.

Coach Taylor’s new approach has been very successful for ODA Cross Country and the future of the team looks full of bonding moments in ice buckets with chocolate milk.

Go Thunder!

If you are looking to support a team that represents this school so well then come to a meet and cheer us on!

North Port XC Invitational

Sat, 09/24/16

7:20 a.m.

District Meet

Thu, 10/20/16

GT Bray Recreational Complex

8:25 a.m.