Following the departure of head coach Dan Sebben last season, the men’s cross country team began the year with Jon Petter as
head Coach, who wanted to bring in a more tactical strategy.
“Anytime you take over a program, you worry if the program is going to have any issues just because of a change in leadership or methodology,” Coach Petter said.
Unlike Sebben, who was about mental toughness and a lot of workouts, Petter was more about numbers and tactical approach. One of Petter’s strategies was to teach his runners pacing. In practice, they worked on hitting specific times and knowing how their bodies should feel to hit a certain time.
“Petter’s main goal for this season was having that strength and ability to pick people off. Not many people can do it; pacing is a really hard thing to grasp. It’s really hard to keep your own pace, but Coach Petter really trained us hard to move past that desire,” Varsity runner junior Joe Grasso said.
“The guys ran well and it really gave us a big confidence boost going into districts, and really made us believe that we could possibly do really well at districts, although we knew SLUH was really tough.”
The next week along with districts came, and Petter and the team looked to settle in behind SLUH, watching where the private school’s runners’ pace would be at the mile and knowing whether they needed to adjust their own pace.
“When the mile came I could see that we were right there with SLUH, and started yelling at the guys to believe we could beat them. I was like, ‘You’re right there with them, stay where you’re at, move up,’ and by about the 4,000 meter mark, I knew we could beat them,” Petter said.
At Districts, men’s cross country beat SLUH by one point.
“Beating SLUH was a big boost for everybody. We all worked our hardest. We did well, we’re very proud,” Grasso said.