Chiles HS is the returning 3A girls state champion team and the 3A boys runner-up team. With the regular season approaching, Coach Mike Phillips gives us the scouting report on this year's boys and girls squads.
What takeaways did you learn last season that you are looking to apply to the 2018 season?
I think that the biggest takeaway from last season that I hope to apply this year is too continue to be more individualized in both mileage build-up and workout design for our athletes. Challenge the top kids more, and allow for a little higher mileage for the kids who can handle it, while continuing to be a "low mileage" program.
What is the best way to describe your coaching philosophy when working with these high school athletes?
Like most of us in the high school coaching ranks, my philosophy is to help the athletes be as good as they can possibly be, while allowing them to have fun. Try to help them determine if they REALLY want to be serious runners, and if so, to teach them what it takes to do that.
What has summer training been like?
We had a great summer of training. Simple mileage build-up. We were lucky to have a strong core of kids who ran all summer and who will enter the season with a great base, while not killing them with hard runs.
Any impactful freshman or transfers to join the team this season?
We have some new kids out this year who we think will really help us both this year and for years down the road, particularly on the girl's team. We have five or six freshmen girls who all have a great attitude and are working very hard. They will help keep the program strong for the next many years!
We have a girl whose family moved in from the Midwest, and two girls who transferred in from another school. The older girls could possibly be big contributors this season. We also have some very talented freshmen boys out this year, who are probably a year or two away, but will add to the depth down the road.
What will be the biggest challenge your team will face this year?
The biggest challenge for our boy's team will be attempting to replace what we lost through graduation last year. The loss of Michael, Matt and Robert has left us with a big hole. The returning upperclassmen from the varsity team last year are really needed to take that next step.
The guys that were JV athletes last year and are vying for varsity spots this year, and there are many, need to understand that to fill the holes will take dedication and hard work that they may have not experienced yet. We believe that they are up to it. Our success as a team will depend on it.
The girls obviously took a big hit through graduation as well. Ana and Erin are gone, and they were great runners for us. Both from a talent and leadership standpoint, we will miss them greatly. But with our returning core, three of whom finished in the top 11 at the State Meet last fall, we think that we can reload.
The biggest challenge for the girls will be to stay focused and hungry coming off of a state title. We want them to believe that they have what it takes to repeat, but that they will have to work very hard, because there are many teams who are talented enough to rise to the top!
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?
For the boys, it will be a successful season if they come together and run for one another. If they do that, we can be a good team. If a few of them rise up and take a major step up, I believe that we can surprise some people, as I don't think that many people will expect much from us. We think that can happen! We think that it WILL happen.
Then it just becomes a questions as to how good OTHER teams are. We want to be, and believe that we will be in the fight when the season is over to make the podium!
For the girls, we want to put ourselves in a position to have the opportunity to repeat as State champs. In order to have the chance to do this, we must stay healthy. Take care of ourselves and do the things we have to do to make sure that we are healthy when it matters most. To be patient in realizing that they don't become State Champions in Sept, early October! It matters where they are in November!
The girls understand that there are many good teams, that there are many unknown girls from the state who may unexpectedly step up and make a huge impact for their team. Nothing will be given to us.
They know that they will already start the season with teams ranked above them, so that will no doubt motivate them. They will be ready!
What are some of the meets the team is looking forward to this year?
We are looking forward to going back to the Buffalo Stampede this year. It is a very fast course and can be a great confidence boost. The girls hope to return to The Great American Race in NC, where they finished 2nd last year. Obviously both teams will relish running in front of the home crowd at Pre-State! And finally, we look forward to competing at the State meet in November!