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Cross country means focused athletes
SNOQUALMIE - It takes a special kind of athlete to turn out for cross country, a sport that involves nothing more than running.
The typical cross country athlete is highly motived and carries a high grades. It's this type of athlete that cross country coach Art Galloway, in his 18th year, has the priviledge of spending time with each fall.
"It's nice when someone runs a race and there's a time and not a lot of argument about who is first, or who is varsity or JV, which is different from a lot of other sports," said Galloway. "Here the time and training determines who is the top runner. I also have the time to get to know kids in this sport more so than other sports."
Noticeably missing from the coaching staff this year is Galloway's wife Kristine Kjenner, who, as of the Valley Record's deadline, was set to have a baby any day. The new addition to the household will be named Nils Henrik after Kjenners grandparents and a brother who was killed at the age of 12 by a drunk driver. Kjenner will likely miss most of the season and then the two have to make some decisions about coaching as they also coach track together.
"Hopefully Kristine will be taking the year off, but we havent really decided if she will stay with track and I do cross country so we can alternate our schedule," said Galloway.
Replacing Kjenner this season as assistant coach is Jessica Scalzo, a 2001 graduate of Mount Si, who is completing her studies at the University of Washington.
"It's a little bit different coaching without Kristine, but it is exciting to have Jessica Scalzo, bringing that young, enthusiasm and she is teaching me things from her running at Arizona State," said Galloway. "The kids are responding really well to her and it's good to bring some new ideas and to make me think of some things differently."
Leading the team for the boys' this year will be junior Brad Allen and senior Brandi Cason. For the girls' team it will be Meaghan Dunklee a senior and Devan Paulus a junior. Galloway has several newcomers to the team as well with freshman Frak daPonte being the front runner. We upped some expecations of weight trainin
"I think Brad had set some high goals for himself as have the other runners," said Galloway. "Drake will be fun to watch this season. I have seen some of his times and now we will see how he does competing with the high school level athletes that run competitively. But he is right up there in training, pushing the other kids. Its fun to see someone with such an obvious competitive spirit. You can look at him and see he likes to run."
If the team can identify its top five runners soon the troupe will then work to better their last years position of bottom of the ladder in KingCo. The move by Skyline to KingCo4A will open things up slightly but the league also has fewer positions to districts then in previous seasons.
The girls should fall somewhere in the middle of the pack with some untested varsity runners.
"My philosphy is always in this kind of sport you tailor individual goals," said Galloway. "I want to see people break their personal best and set goals over the course of the season."
"We should have about 21 runners but thats pretty consistent with other coaches in the league," said Galloway. "We started practice a week earlier this year so we have a few kids that are out for vacation. I am very happy with who is out this season. Some people trained a lot more during the summer and thats really evident, some people took it a lot more than they have in the past."
Newport and Mercer Island will likely top the charts for the girls this season and the Issaquah and Bellevue boys are always dominant. The Wildcats will have home races this season on a course that starts at the high school and wraps around Snoqualmie Elementary. Their first meet is Thursay Sept. 9, at Issaquah with a start time of 4 p.m. Its first home meet will be Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m against Sammamish.