Sarasota HS is home to Ben Hartvigsen, the returning 2017 4A state champion. Sarasota is ranked third in the preseason rankings for the 4A boys. Coach John Stevenson gives us the scouting report for the Sarasota boys.
What takeaways did you learn last season that you are looking to apply to the 2018 season?
I think our major weakness last year was our finishing speed. We had a group of talented runners who could run at a great tempo but maybe lacking speed. Overall, we had a good track season to help but with the group we have; our finishing speed needs to improve. We also need to improve our patience in the early parts of races. I like to see more consistency in their splits; there we need to harp on focusing on the 2nd half races.
What is the best way to describe your coaching philosophy when working with these high school athletes?
I don't really know how to describe my philosophy but what I expect day in and day out is that this team challenge themselves to become better in each practice. I harp on doing the little things great. The little things matter. Kids understand that doing things correctly is important, they may not like it be use it may be hard but they understand it.
What has summer training been like?
Summer has been fantastic! Our attendance has been the highest in my 9 years of coaching. We had a great summer camp in Brevard where we took 23 kids to run in NC. Most importantly the kids are motivated, which keeps everyone on their toes to stay on varsity.
Any impactful freshman or transfers to join the team this season?
We did get some freshman that could probably make in impact in the future but our biggest impact with be Alan Romero who will be a senior. He ran for us for three years during track because the school he attended only had XC but he made the jump to SHS and ready to help this team reach new heights.
Which athlete(s) on your team do you think will be the biggest surprise and why?
Ben Hartvigsen...just kidding. This is a tough question because we really don't know how fast these kids can run yet based on summer running. We harp on the kids to keep runs easy for their base but tempo runs do occur to increase their threshold but we won't be doing any real intervals till September.
I think we will see some sophomores like Zack Jones and Robert Stiff to push their way in the top 8. I think sophomore Orlando Cicilioni will be a big key to the team. He can really be a viable #2 or #3 man.
What will be the biggest challenge your team will face this year?
Our biggest challenge is going to be patience and focus. We have goals and must keep in mind that November is our goal, not August or September so we keep building upon each workout and each race.
From your perspective, what would define success for your team this season? What do you think it will take for your team to achieve that?
Our goal is the same as it has been every year, which is to run our best at the state meet and if our best puts us on the podium or whatever place then that would be a success because the kids gave everything they got. It's obvious that we want to build upon our top 4 finish from last year with returning the 5 scores from the state meet. The big key for us to improve will be the placement of our #2 and #3 guys at the state meet. They have to penetrate the top 25. For us to achieve our goals this year is already in place, the kids want it and want to get better. They trust in the coaching and know that we want to as much as they do.
What are some of the meets the team is looking forward to this year?
We have two big meets circled. First is Great American and a week later Pre-State at ARP. The boys have been stoked about Great American ever since I brought it up in May. ARP is always on our schedule because it is arguably the best course in Florida.