The Madras cross country program is ready for another season. The program has a new cross country coach Brian Martz, who comes with a lot of experience.
Martz teaches engineering and construction classed at Madras High School. He has been coaching cross country for around 30 years, coaching in Arizona, Iowa and now here in Madras.
He ran both cross country and track in high school and at Northeast Missouri State at the collegiate level. Martz also tried out for the Olympic trials after college.
"I have had a lot of fun and success over these 30 years and I feel like I can really Madras build a program that will be competitive, yet the kids will still have fun," Martz said. "For me this is like starting a brand new program, our numbers are pretty low, so my goals are to get more kids interested. I want to teach them about life-long fitness, good health habits and to teach them about the sport itself. Setting goals, working together, making new friends are all very important."
"We hope that cross country is an extension to the classroom," he said. "Also, that they will find relevance in what we learn in cross country to the rest of their life."
Last year's team was highlighted by Vanessa Culps, who finished second at the Tri-Valley District race. She was the first female runner to qualify for state since 1998. The girls finished in third place at the district race, while the boys finished in fifth.
Eryn McCourtney placed 15th at districts last year and will be a senior this season. Also returning is junior male runner Grayson Symons, who placed 22nd at the district race.
"This is my second year at Madras, so I observed from a distance last year," Martz said. "I am trying to get to know the kids. We don't have enough for a team, for boys and girls right now. The kids that have been coming, they have been doing everything I ask with a smile on their face and I have already seen a lot of improvement."
The White Buffalos have their first race Sept, 7 in the Cowboy XC Invitational in Prineville. Seven other teams will compete against the Buffalos during their first race of the season. Madras will have a home meet Sept. 28 at Juniper Hills park.
"Our daily plan is to have practices that are challenging and fun, but will also allow for growth and self assessment," said Martz. "We want them to own up to everything. Mid-range goals will be where can we be in a few weeks and long-term goals are season end races and career goals at the school, helping them find out what life will be like after high school."
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