Thursday, September 20, 2012

Post Season Training

I have had quite a few requests for ideas about post season training.  It seems like a lot of kids have caught the running bug, and we want to keep them training hard on a regular basis.

For 7th graders who ran XC for us, I strongly suggest either participating in as many Sierra sports as you can all winter long.  Flag football and volleyball registration ends tomorrow, but later in the year we offer wrestling and basketball, then track in the spring.  Stay involved, play after school sports!

For 8th graders, there are no immediate after school sports for them.  I think the Parker Panthers is a great running club, the coaches are phenomenal, and fast kids come out of that program every year.

For high school athletes, as well as 8th graders who ran XC, we offer a winter track club through USATF.  This track club starts up at the beginning of November, and we train at Chaparral HS right after school, offering training for all athletes in all track (and field) events.  We do charge a fee for the training, but the money goes 100% back into the athletes and the club.  No coaches trip to Jamaica for us! :)  You also have to be a registered USATF member for insurance purposes.

The coaches that run the track club are having a meeting in early October to figure out the exact details of the club.  Check back here on the blog in mid-October for all the details, but start getting excited now!

Coach SEP

Monday, September 17, 2012

Devils Thumb Trail Race 2012

Jon, Steven and I after the race
In what is fast becoming an annual tradition, I ran the Devils Thumb Trail race for the second consecutive year yesterday.  As usual, it was beautiful conditions, just like last year, so everyone was pretty excited to run.  Jon Euwema and Steven Busch came up for this race, which goes to show how old I am getting.  I coached both of these guys, with Jon graduating HS in 2004 and Steven in 2007.  Both of them have graduated college, and are now members of the "real world", but they both still train a lot and they are both still very fast.

How fast?  Well, Steven was fast enough to get the win, by a sizable margin, and Jon ran into the top 25% of finishers quite easily.  I was pleased with myself, as I hung on for 9th place overall, even though I took a pretty brutal fall coming down the backside of Marker Hill.  You can check out the official results here.

The race was longer than last year, which surprised almost all of us at the start line.  We were expecting a 12 km race, with one major hill.  At the start line, the buzz was that it was going to be a 10 km race, with one major hill.  Based on that information, I changed into my lighter road race shoes last minute.  (That was a mistake, as evidenced by my legs feeling like they had been punched 1,000,000 times by the time I finished.)  In reality, the race followed the course map that was published, but it was 13 km long as well as having two major hills.  I am not complaining, however, I loved the race.  We ran through beautiful aspen tress, along creeks, down gnarly trails, it was just so much fun to be running in such beautiful country.
Steven crossing the finish line all alone

Steven had a great race, ran 6:24 minutes per mile, and was cruising at the finish.  He has the Denver Half Marathon next week, I think he is going to do very, very well.  Steven is a product of the Sierra XC program, where he was one of our most successful runners.  It was in middle school he really learned how much fun running can be, and how if you are dedicated to the sport, you can really turn yourself into a truly exceptional runner.  He ran in high school, ran in college, and is now continuing to run in community races all over the state.  Very cool.

I was so happy to have my family up there with me yesterday.  I know how hard it is for Beth to try and juggle two kids for over an hour at a boring "go-into-the-woods-come-out-of-the-woods" trail race.  I am very grateful that Beth always takes care of the family while I do all of my crazy things like running races, track coaching, cross country banquets.  I am pretty lucky to have a wife who cares for me so much. Thanks, Beth. :)
Steven on the podium!

The best part about these open community races, other than the joy of running, the ability to pick what races you want to do, as well as being able to focus on and dedicate yourself to a certain race; are the prizes for the winners!  For all 51 minutes of his hard work yesterday, Steven won a six pack of microbrew.  A better prize, I cannot think of.  :)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

District Championship Analysis

Final Varsity Race Scores
Our last race of the season was this morning, the district championship race down in Larkspur.  Every school in DougCo was there, ready to race and compete and try and win that elusive overall title.  I was pretty excited about our chances to win, but we did not.  We came in a very honorable third place overall, actually relying upon a tiebreaker with Mesa to keep the bronze all to ourselves.

(You might be wondering how this is scored.  At dual meets, you add points, but at the nine team district meet, you add places.  For example, Mountain Ridge easily won.  They got a first, a first, a first and a second, for a total of five.  RanchView was second, with a total of 13.  We tied with Mesa with 17, but then you go to overall points.  We had 435, they had 484, we win the tiebreaker!)

While there were some quirks in the management of the race that I am sure will be worked out next year, I thought everyone had a positive experience, everyone ran their guts out for their teammates & their schools, so it was a very successful day.  It was a great way to end a great season.  You should all be patting yourselves on the back for racing so well today.

Personally, I am very proud of all the athletes who sacrificed all season long to be on this team, as well as sacrificing to come to this championship meet.  I hope the season exceeded all of your expectations and you are all better runners and athletes because of it.  I want to thank all of the parents for all of the support and kind words throughout the season, it truly is a triangle, between athlete, coach and parent. And finally, I need to throw a major shout-out to some of the best coaches I have worked with, Adam, Brent & Nicole, the success of this season is due in large part to you.

See you all at the banquet on Monday night, it is going to be a blast!!!

Thank you,

Coach SEP

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cimarron vs Sierra Analysis

Finishing the regular season undefeated is always a great thing to accomplish, and beating a tough team from Cimarron is a perfect way to do it.  I thought we raced fantastically yesterday, on a tough muddy course, 19 out of 27 seven-girls improved their Sierra course times, 25 out of 40 seven-boys improved, 21 out of 28 eight-boys improved and 18 our of 20 eight-girls improved!  Wow, we asked the kids to set a PR for the course yesterday, and 72% of the kids did it!  That is really, really, really awesome.  I am really proud of that 72% number.  Great job by everyone, hopefully we can keep it rolling through one more meet.

7Boys results, Sierra lost by 23

7 Girls Results, Sierra won by 21

8 boys results, Sierra won by 4

8 Girls results, Sierra won by 13

Overall, we won by a total of 15 points.  Our closest meet yet, but a win is a win!  6-0 baby!  Let's trya and make it 7-0 on Saturday!

Monday Banquet

While I am excited for this weekend and the championship races, I am also super excited for Monday's banquet.  In the linked post, I gave bare bones details, but in this post I want to explain the reasoning and culture behind our banquet.

At Sierra, at the end of every season, the coaches of each sport usually throw a pizza party after school for their athletes, to celebrate a memorable season.  While a pizza party is a great way to celebrate, the XC team tries to do something a little more.  We have a potluck banquet for the athletes and their families, and it is a fantastic time.

Attendance is not mandatory, but we usually get almost 100% attendance.  We have a slide show with music so dance parties usually break out.  We have tons of wonderful food that the athletes and their families prepare for us, ranging from homemade pizzas to chicken wings to 15 or so crockpots bubbling away.  The coaches will be handing out awards, giving speeches, cracking jokes; all to the embarrassment of their families that are in attendance.  The coveted "black shoelaces" will be bestowed upon the 8th graders, which is usually the highlight of the night.  Around 7:30, everything is all cleaned up, everyone has one last hug, and we close up shop for the night.

The banquet is a great time for athletes and families to have one last fun time together before other sports pull us in different directions.  Cross country season forms a strong bond between all of the kids, and the banquet is the best way to celebrate it.

I personally hope to see all of the parents and athletes there on Monday.  I know the Broncos are playing, but that is what DVR is for, right? :)

Coach SEP

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Varsity Line Ups

The following runners have been selected for the varsity races and need to be at Larkspur at 8:00 sharp!  Look for the red tent up near the top of the hill for the coaches.

8 Boys:
Tad Trimarco
Blake Karbon
Dylan Cann
Kyle Potts
Jack Browne
Zach Berg
Connor Martin
Alternates: Noah Beinhorn & Patrick Scripter

8 Girls:
Ashley Diefenbach
Sydney Matthews
Kiera Hoff
Addy Burgess
Dani Miller
Collete Palmquist
Becca Day
Alternates: Sydney White & Jackie Closs

7 Boys:
Nick Kounkel
Christian Williams
Thomas Meurer
Grayson Arstingstall
Charlie Beller
Cooper Findlay
Riley Langerman
Alternates: Alex Hernandez & KJ Phillips

7 Girls:
Sydney Compoz
Caitlyn Ridgeway
Ally Swain
Morgan Oakes
Vanessa Castro
Abigail Cook
Katie Evans
Alternates: Cristin Brophy & Kiera Carney

All other runners need to be in Larkspur at 8:30 for course preview, warm-up and to cheer on their teammates.

Remember, we are a team!  This division does not change that.  We can win this meet as a TOTAL TEAM!

All District Championship information can be found at the following link;

Sept 15th Championship Meet Information

Coach Sep, Coach Thornton, Coach Vamvakas, Coach Sheffield

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sierra vs. Sagewood Analysis

What a great day for a race.  Overcast, not too hot, a few raindrops falling here and there.  I was telling a dad as we walked in that I have been to Sagewood to race 6 times in 12 years. This was the 6th time, and it was the first time we did not have rain, lightning, or even snow (circa 2004) delay the race!  I was so glad the weather gods were smiling upon us.

But enough Al Roker for you, how about some thoughts on the performance of the kids today.  First and foremost, you gotta hand it to the 7th grade girls and boys.  Once again, they turned themselves inside out and showed the incredible depth and talent that Sierra has. On the boys side, the 7th graders got 18 of the top 25 places.  That is unbelievable!  Just mind boggling that we have that many great runners here at Sierra.  Sagewood is no slouch, they have good coaches and they train hard.  And to place that many guys in the top 25 is just awesome!  For the 7th grade girls, Syd the kid won her 5th consecutive race, in fact, she would have been in 3rd place in the boys race!  That is just fantastic.  And we had a ton of girls just hammering that last hill, Abby, Kiera, Cristin, Vanessa all had wonderful races today.  Both the 7th grade boys and girls won easily over Sagewood.

The 8th graders had a much tougher time with Sagewood, as the Wildcats came in first individually in each race.  However, the depth of the girls, even with holding out some kids so they can get healthy, let us prevail in that race by 18 points. Becca, Dani, and Natalia all had great races and helped us seal up the victory there.  The closest race we have been in all year was on the 8th grade boys side.  Sagewood won that race by three points, but Tad, Blake, Kyle, Dylan, Jack and Zach all did a great job of making them work as hard as they could for it.  Losing by three points means it could have gone either way on any give day, so we look forward to the re-match on Saturday.

Overall, the Eagles won by 104 points, which means that our training and our practice is paying off.  Congrats Eagles, one more big race against Cimmaron at home on Thursday, then off to District Championships!

Coach SEP

Bailey and Ethan sprinting home

Kiera and Collete lunging for the finish line

Sydney winning her 5th in a row

Kellen and Caleb passing a Wildcat

Abby finishing off the best race of her career, Kyle is close behind

Connor, Ashley and Patrick gapping a Wildcat in the distance

Coach Sep bringing the 8th graders out to help the 7th graders kick it home.

7Boys Results

7Girls Results 

8Boys Results

8Girls Results

Our last home meet of the season is this Thursday when Cimarron comes to ou course.  Cimarron is a heated rival for us, we will need all the support you can get.  Fly the grandparents in from the East Coast if you have to, the louder it is for Sierra, the better we run!!!

Coach SEP

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post Season Banquet

The coaches have been emailing back and forth about the post season banquet.  Due to parent-teacher conferences, we cannot have it on the Wednesday after the district meet.  Instead, the SMS XC Banquet will be on Monday the 17th, at 5:30 pm in the Sierra cafeteria.  We will start eating around 6:00, and we will be finished up everything by 7:30.

This banquet is potluck, so we ask all that attend to bring something for 10-12 people to eat.
8 Girls - bring appetizers
8 Boys - bring desserts
7 Girls & 7 Boys - bring main dishes

Everything will just be laid out on tables in the hallway, we will have power if you need to keep things warm, and don't forget serving spoons!

Please label anything you bring, so people with allergies can know what is in what.  We don't need full ingredient lists, but if you have peanuts buried in your meatballs, we need to know. :)

Coaches will supply the silverware, the plates & napkins, as well as the beverages.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, the whole family is welcome.  There is no fee, we want as many people coming by as possible to celebrate a successful season.

After everyone has gotten fed, the coaches will have a short presentation, then the participation awards will be handed out and all athletes will be honored, then we will send off the 8th graders.  It is a great time, we really hope we can see all the athletes and their families.

Coach SEP

P.S.  8th grade parents need to contact Mrs. Diefenbach regarding the banquet as soon as they can.  Email her at:  It is mucho importante!!

Last Week of XC :(

Good morning everybody, 

I am sad to report that this is the final week of cross country, but that means one thing...CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK!  Our district championships are this Saturday morning down in Larkspur.  I am really excited, because I think, with our team depth in all categories, we have an excellent chance of winning the overall team title.  In order to achieve that goal, however, we need the following:

An excellent week of practice:  We have meets on Tuesday (@ Sagewood) and Thursday (@ Sierra), so Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be full days for us, but easy days.  These last few days of practice are critical, as it the last chance for us to work out any kinks the runners might have.  For Tuesday, we hope to see a lot of people down at Sagewood, and Thursday is our final home meet, against our rivals from Cimarron.  We will be hoping to run the fastest we have ever run on the Sierra course that day!  

Excellent H.N. R. at home:  H.N.R. stands for Hydration, Nutrition and Relaxation.  Please make sure your athlete is drinking plenty of water, eating really good nutritious foods, and getting lots of sleep this week.  Saturday is a fun, but stressful day in a lot of ways, and the athletes need to be prepared going into it.  Don’t do anything radically different, just keep your child eating well, drinking lots, and going to bed at a good time.

Positive reinforcement always:  This week at practice, we won’t do much running, but we will do a lot of building the athletes up and making sure they KNOW how great they are.  They have survived the four hardest, grueling, back-breaking weeks of middle school athletics, and they have all come out stronger, tougher, faster and gutsier because of it.  They need to know that, they need to know that they are amazing athletes, that they are fantastic runners, and they need to bring that self-confidence to the meet on Saturday.  We will be giving them that confidence at practice, help us out by continuing it at home!

I have already posted the Saturday schedule, check it out if you need more details.  Can’t wait for a great last week!

Coach SEP

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mega Updates

Coach Seppala's college ski team 

Good morning,

Lots of updates on the blog this morning.  I would've gotten to them last night, but I was invited to a meeting for, a grassroots campaign to try and bring cross country skiing to the city Denver.  Hopefully, by grooming some trails on golf courses and in parks, we can get more people out there kicking and gliding!  The truth be told, I was not really a runner in high school and college, I was a nordic skier, so this is something that is near and dear to me.  Check out the website, hopefully we can get this thing off the ground!

Remember, early dismissaal from practice today, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Week 4 Pics

A few pics from our meets this week.

Start of the 8th grade race at Rocky Heights

Start of the 7th grade race

Warming up at Rocky Heights

Caitlin finishing strong

I wonder what advice Coach Thornton is giving?

Many thanks to all the parents who have sent me so many great pics.  I want to save most of them for the year end banquet slide show, we got a lot of fast looking kids!!

Coach SEP

Message from Mrs. Diefenbach

Attention:  Sierra Cross Country Parents of 8th Grade Athletes

Please contact Shelley Diefenbach (Ashley's mom) at the the email address,

Kirk_Shelley [at] msn [dot] com

regarding the year end banquet as soon as you can.


Shelley D.

Sept. 15th Championship Meet Information

Our district championship schedule has just been set by Cimaron MS, the hosting school.

The meet will be held at the Larkspur Renaissance Fairgrounds, off of Perry Park Rd. in Larkspur.  We use the parking lot directly across from the Larkspur Elementary School.  

The race is on Sept. 15th, the first races are at 9:00, the last ones go off at 10:00.   If we are still in Larkspur at 11:00 am, something has gone wrong. :)

Everyone races, but athletes will divided up into varsity races or open races, depending on how well they have raced through the year, how well they are racing right now, and meet/practice attendance.

The exact race schedule is
9:00 am Varsity 8th graders (top seven boys and top seven girls from each school)
9:20 am Varsity 7th graders (top seven boys and top seven girls from each school)
9:40 am Open 8th graders (all 8th graders who did not race varsity)
10:00 am Open 7th graders (all 7th graders who did not race varsity)

We need all racers to be there 60 minutes before thier race start for course preview and warm-ups.  Earlier is always better.

Please pack heavily.  Lots of warm clothes, snacks and water.  This is an all morning event, we want racers to be as prepared as possible.  We have run this meet in a snowstorm, in a windstorm, and on a 80 degree day (not all at the same time though!) Be prepared!

If you cannot make this mandatory championship meet, please alert me as soon as you can.  We need to know who will be there and who will not so we can set our line-ups.  There is no bus, so athletes must find thier own ride to and from the meet.

Questions? Email me!

Thank you,
Coach SEP

Week Four Review

The Sierra Eagles survived the fourth week of the season still undefeated, this is how we did it.

Rocky Heights:  Away meets are always tough, but we went over to Rocky Heights, ran their out-and-back course, and came away with a win.  We had great performances all around, especially from all the seventh graders.  The level of depth we have in the 7th grade is amazing, I think it is really going to come in handy on Sept. 15th.  Racers that stand out in my dust-filled mind are Addy Burgess, Sydney White, Thomas Muerer, and Ally Swain.  They had great races on Wednesday, they should be proud of themselves!  That led to a convincing victory over the Nighthawks of Rocky Heights.

Ranchview:  Ranchview is always a tough team.  They have excellent coaches, they get lots of kids out, I was really worried that we would lose to them.  But again, our seventh grade depth came through, along with a healthy dose of 8th graders stepping it up.  Dani Miller and Collete Palmquist had awesome  races, saving the 8th grade girls from a loss, so did Vanessa Castro on the 7th grade girls side.  For the men, Tad Trimarco ran very, very well on our home course, and so did Blake Karbon.  On the 7th grade boys side, Charlie Beller came back from illness to place very high, and so did Sydney Mathews on the 8th grade ladies side. It was tough, but we scratched out a win over Wolves of Ranchview.

Results: I have posted the results from both races below, as well as the results from the first Sierra race. In cross country, you just can't compare times from course to course.  What I did was compare the athletes from when they raced the Sierra course in August to when they raced it yesterday.  Of course, there are always variables, such as back-to-back races, heat and humidity, and knowledge of the course.  But what we always want to see from athletes is improvement.  We want them to get better every day, because if we don't continually improve, then we will get caught at the end of the season.   I saw a lot of kids improve, but I also saw a lot of kids get slower.  A negative sign in front of your percentage means you actually ran the course slower than you did two weeks ago.  That is not ideal.  We have one more race at home next week, let's make it our goals to have our personal best time on our course next Thursday.  Always try and do better than your best!

7Boys Week 4 Data

7Girls Week 4 Data

8Boys Week 4 Data

8Girls Week 4 Data

Overall, it was a successful week. We had two races, we won both of them, we had no injuries, so it was a good week.  One more short practice today, then the weekend, then championship week!  I can't wait for Sept. 15th, I really like our chances!!!!

UPDATE: A little bird on my shoulder alerted me to a couple of misfirings in the data.  I guess that happens when you are entering 122 data points during homeroom! :)  Grayson Arstingstal actually ran a 10:35 yesterday, improving his time by four seconds, for a positive increase of 0.63% Great job Grayson! Sorry for the misstep.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4th Week of XC

We are now entering the stretch run of the XC season.  With our hardest block of training in the rear view mirror, we need to start focusing on the championship race in two short weeks!

This week is a short week, but a busy one.  With an away meet at Rocky Heights on Wednesday and a home meet on Thursday, plus an early dismissal on Friday, we don't have much practice time remaining.  Here is the schedule and some other thoughts for XC

Tuesday (today): A creative run is on the docket for today, plus the Rocky Heights course preview.  We might be running a little bit later than normal, so we apologize in advance.  We will get the kids out as soon as close to 4:45 as we can.

Wednesday: Away meet at Rocky Heights Middle School.  Rocky Heights is a traditional middle school XC powerhouse, this will be a very good test for us.  Just like at Castle Rock, if you are taking your athlete home right after the meet, please be sure to sign them out.  If you and your athlete want to stay and watch the volleyball game, that is great, the volleyball team loves the support of both athletes and parents!

Thursday: Home meet vs Ranchview.  Another really good XC team.  I know they have at least one stud 7th grade girl, and they usually have very strong 8th grade teams as well.  Being the second of back-to-back races, we will need all the spectator and volunteer support we can get.  If you can help out with meet management, please see me before the race at the red tent.

Both of these races are very important, not just to try and win, but also to start figuring out who will be running in the varsity race at District Championships and who will be running in the Open race.  All athletes will run on Sept. 15th, but the top seven in each grade/gender for Sierra will be running in the Varsity race.  Those top seven will be determined by the coaching staff, based on recent race trends, voerall results, and practice/meet attendance.  If you have questions about this, just ask any of the coaches, and we will be happy to explain it in more detail.

Friday:  Since we were planning on having a 5K race on Saturday, we originally scheduled an early dismissal.  That 5K race is not happening, but we will stick with the early dismissal, 4:15 instead of 4:45.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day holiday, got some running in, and are ready to go for the next two weeks!

Coach SEP