The Bolles boys cross country team is the top ranked team in the state. Coach Mike Rivera gives us the scouting report on this year's squad.
What takeaways did you learn last season that you are looking to apply to the 2018 season?
Everything that we do is a key experience. The conditions at NXN were tough for the guys on their first trip to Portland. Having gone through that, they are much tougher and focused going into this season. As a team, we try to find challenges that others may not be willing to do and that we hope will have a positive and beneficial impact on the season.
What is the best way to describe your coaching philosophy when working with these high school athletes?
Key experiences, growth, and positive attitude. Opportunities are placed in front of the runners and they make the decision to seize them or let them slip on past. It is my job to help them get in a position where they eventually seize them without any prodding. All of this is done in a positive atmosphere with the growth of the athlete in mind. I try my best to get the runners to realize that they do not have to; they get to. The coaches and the athletes know when to get serious and when to have fun.
What has summer training been like?
Training this summer has been unbelievable. The team has had former runners get to base mileage levels similar to this summer, but we have never had the amount of runners get to these levels like we have had this year.
Sometimes I just have to stop and watch these guys cruise through their miles and remind myself of how special they are and of how special things have been the past few years.
Any impactful freshman or transfers to join the team this season?
The transformation of the younger guys has been outstanding. We will wait for the results to start showing up and then people can decide the impact. When the results start coming in, the young guys will be proud of the work that they have put into this summer and this season.
Which athlete(s) on your team do you think will be the biggest surprise and why?
Like the question above, I am not going to go into specifics because if I name one surprise, then I am indirectly telling another runner that they will not be surprising. Many of the guys are coming off of impressive track seasons and dedicated summers. We cannot wait for Spikes and Spurs on August 25th.
What will be the biggest challenge your team will face this year?
Complacency and distractions. Last year, they reached the highest level that high school cross country has to offer. This group wants to reach that level again, but there have been battles with doing things correctly on a daily basis. They need to make the decision to do the right things first and the first things right. When an opportunity to get better is missed, a limit has been set that cannot be overcome.
The seniors have a number of college visits coming up and need to set aside time for applications. Again, one job of the coaching staff and the runners looking out for each other is to work through distractions and to make sure that time is used efficiently to achieve the team goals.
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?
I would like to start out by stating that this is a very special team. One form of success that I see will be that the younger runners have learned as much as possible from the seniors so that Bolles can keep riding this amazing train. We enjoy riding this train to goodness.
A second form of success is that the guys cross the finish line at their season finale, the State Meet, and NXR knowing that they have given their all for the team. To achieve this, the guys need to realize that they cannot control what others do; we can only control ourselves and our own performances. The team needs to come together as a unit with a laser focus on the goals. The training will be put in front of them and each of them needs to decide to go with it or not.
What are some of the meets the team is looking forward to this year?
The guys look forward to all the meets that are on the schedule because they know that they serve a specific purpose. We love our opening meet at Flagler Palm Coast (Spikes and Spurs) because it opens up the season and allows every teammate to be on the start line at once.
The Florida Horse Park Invitational is our first chance to line up a Varsity 10 and see how we match up with the best in the state. Katie Caples is a traditional local meet under the lights and always has a fun atmosphere.
Most of all, the guys look forward to the out-of-state meets and the post season. Great American in Cary, NC and The Manhattan College HS XC Invitational at historic Van Cortlandt are a blast. Both of these meets give the guys key experiences that they will call upon going into the post season. They also allow us to see how we compare on a regional and national level. The State Meet allows us to battle with the best of the best in Florida on a great course in Tallahassee. Once the state competition has culminated, then it is on to NXR with the hopes of a repeat trip to NXN.