Less than 24 hours before the start of fall classes, the El Dorado High cross-country team celebrated its summer of workouts.
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At its height, the Cougars attracted 40 or more kids from a pool 60-65 that attended at one time or another — their best summer turnout — to execute a workout plan devised by El Dorado coach Tena Harms.
“The program has grown in a huge way since Peanut (Harms’ husband) and I have been here. The boys went to the state finals three years in a row, and the girls went last year, so we put together a summer program to keep that going,” Tena said. “The goal this summer is to improve and get stronger.”
Part of cross-country’s appeal at El Dorado is the Harms’ belief that everyone on the team is a valued runner, not just the top runners. That inclusive feel has helped draw out the numbers — 55 to the first day of practice last week.
“It’s looking good for the Cougars going into the fall,” Peanut said. “We lost a little (to graduation), but I’m confident we’ll fill in. I’m impressed with the dedication of the kids this summer — it was tough because of the heat.”
El Dorado stays in the Sierra Valley Conference, but two of the tougher schools competition-wise, Vista del Lago and Cosumnes Oaks, realigned out which could signal smooth sailing for Cougar harriers.
The team will be led by Kaitlynn Staggers, Jackson Harris and Dalton Hilley-Douglas.
“A lot of mileage this summer, speed work and trail running which gets us ready for the season,” said Harris and Staggers, who both have aspirations to compete at the college level. “Our goal is to perform well at (the Sac-Joaquin) Sections and reach the state finals. We’re blessed to have such a strong coaching staff. The program has become very strong and at El Dorado High School. It’s the sport to be in.”
The team met twice a week at the school’s track, and once a week at Sly Park. For each attendance, Cougars received one raffle ticket for the summer-end celebration.
The workout regiment included warm-up that included laps, tempo, warm-ups, and a lengthy run, as well as core, structural integrity, and shine splint exercises. The summer was designed for each exercise/drill to escalate in amount and each runner kept a log of their results/improvement.
Additional training was at the American River Resort.
Raffle prizes consisted of a multitude of sport T-shirts the Harms have accumulated from various events in addition to other run-related items.
One Peanut-inspired tee depicted a band performing called J Ward and the Runz, circa 1979 … but that’s another story.
Note: If you have a El Dorado High student interested in the Cougar cross-country program, call coach Peanut Harms at 530-748-5506.