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2003 Cross Country #8

by John Dye

Josh McDougal
Peru NY sr

photo by Mike Boucher

Kate Niehaus
Spring Valley Columbia SC

A year ago, Josh McDougal was in front of a pack of 10 runners over the last bridge in the Foot Locker Northest regional -- 1,000 meters to go for a ticket to San Diego. But McDougal faded badly, passed by eight runners to finish 9th, an agonizing 3 seconds and one spot away from qualifying for Foot Locker national finals in San Diego.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about it," says McDougal now about that "devastating finish." He blames it on a general feeling of being tired from overtraining. So, after 100 mile weeks during the summer, he cut down his miles in recent weeks.

The new regimen paid off with a sensational win in the New York Road Runners Club championships (as a home schooled runner, Josh could not run in the New York state meet the same weekend). McDougal won in 15:08, fastest 5k ever by a high school runner at storied Van Cortlandt Park.

Considering the greats that have run at VCP, it was a win for the ages. It was also 15-25 seconds faster than recent Foot Locker Northeast regional champions over the same course. McDougal can't wait to toe the starting line Nov. 29 for this year's Northeast regional.

Josh McDougal 's past performances:

2003 cross country

Time Dist Pos/Meet
15:08 5k 1 @ NYRR Champs NY 11/16/2003
15:04 5k 1 @ Adirondack USATF J.O NY 11/9/2003
15:02 3.05m 1 @ USATF Adirondack NY 10/19/2003

2003 outdoor

Event Mark Meet
B-1500 3:55.38 7/6/2003, YAC YM/YW NY, # 2
B-2Mile 9:03.82 6/14/2003, AOC Raleigh NC, # 6
B-Mile 4:16.25 6/14/2003, AOC Raleigh NC, # 13
B-3000 8:35.46 5/17/2003, Boston High-Perf MA, # 11
B-1500 3:56.64 4/27/2003, Dartmouth Inv NH, # 3

2002 cross country

Time Dist Pos/Meet
15:51 5k 9 @ FootLocker NE seeded NY 11/30/2002
15:24 5k 1 @ USATF Adirondack NY 11/10/2002
15:03 5k 1 @ SaratogaBank Classic NY 10/20/2002

Kate Niehaus surprised herself as much as anyone else when she ran fifth in the Foot Locker South region to qualify for the national finals in San Diego. It was her first year of competitive running, although she "ran the whole game" as a soccer player since she was 6 years old.

San Diego turned out to be a huge disappointment as Kate was a DNF. But she learned a lot in her first exposure to the world of elite runners, and she came home with a burning desire to get back to San Diego.

Niehaus built a summer base for the first time and ran as much as a minute faster than last year in the same meets. She defended her South Carolina 4A state championship in a showdown with Angelina Blackmon, who had beaten her in the regionals. Niehaus turned a close race into a rout with a surge that led to a 34-second final margin in 17:37 5k, 16 seconds faster than her winning time last year.

Now she turns her thoughts to Charlotte for the Foot Locker South region.

Kate Niehaus' past performances:

2003 cross country

Time Dist Pos/Meet
17:37 5k 1 @ 4A State Meet SC 11/8/2003
17:31 5k 2 @ Region SC 11/1/2003
18:47 3.1m 5 @ Wendy's Inv -Inv Div NC 10/4/2003
18:20 5k 3 @ Great Am Seeded Inv NC 9/27/2003
17:16 3m 1 @ Gathering of Harrier VA 9/20/2003
17:46 5k 1 @ Coaches Classic SC 9/13/2003

2002 cross country

Time Dist Pos/Meet
5 @ FootLocker SO seeded NC 11/30/2002
1 @ State 4A SC 11/9/2002
1 @ Wendy's Inv NC 10/5/2002
1 @ Gathering Harriers VA 9/21/2002
2 @ Coaches Classic SC 9/14/2002

Q and A with Josh McDougal

1. Briefly describe your training pattern this year. What did you do in the summer? Are you training harder this year?

I ran a lot of milage over the summer, with a few weeks eclipsing 100. The training wasn't all that different from last year over the summer. But after last years abrupt end to my cross country season I surmised that I trained too hard through the final few weeks of the season, so I'm actually doing less at the moment.

2. What were your goals for the season starting out? Have you adjusted them after your success so far?

My main goal for the cross country season was to perform well in a few selected meets, and to qualify for Footlocker finals. I really have not altered any of my goals.

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages in your mind of not running on a high school team? Do you sometimes wish you were running for a school team?

We do run fewer races than most highschool runners, so that is one of our advantages. Every one thinks that we get to "pick and choose our races", which to some extent is true, but if that was the case, I would have run the Great American, Manhattan, Milrose, Penn, States, Feds, etc. The truth is that we can't pick and choose our races. The only options we have to compete are college/open meets, which in some respects, we have found to be an advantage.
Of course I would like to run for a team, unfortunately New York is one of the few states that doesn't allow home schoolers to compete.

4. Do you have any training partners other than your brother Jordan?

Not really, sometimes I run with friends. Most of those runs are on my recovery days. Jordan is the only one who can keep up with me on my workouts.

5. Who is your coach?

My Dad. Jordan and I collaborate together to schedule workouts. Over the years we have developed a system that works for us. Many of our workouts are derived from books such as "Running With The Buffalos" and especially Irv Ray's "Run With The Best"

6. What is your background in running and what how does running fit in your long term plans?

I guess you could say I'm a veteran. I have been running for nine years, and competing for eight. As far as long term goals, I want to use this gift that God has given me to glorify Him, and see how far I can go. This was the key factor in my college choice.

7. Was the Van Cortlandt Park record run a break through for you or part of an evolutionary plan?

My race this past weekend was a break through for me. I came into the race shooting for a sub 15:30 and a positive experience for Footlocker. I certainly got more than I had hoped.

8. Has Foot Locker been the focus of your training this season? How do you assess your chances in the Northeast region? How do you think the race will be run?

Footlocker has definitely been the focal point of my training this season. I feel I stand just as good a chance as anyone I guess. I have no idea how the race will be run, but I expect a few guys might run just to qualify. I will be prepared to run my race. I would like to see a group of us go under 15:10. I feel that I have proved that we can do it.

9. Last year's Foot Locker regional was a great disappointment to you. Has that made you more determined this year? What actually happened in the last mile?

In my mind last years devastating finish at Footlocker was fitting. It capped off a frustrating season. I was in a really bad slump (by my standards), I had put in all the work, but it just wouldn't show. I just couldn't run a good race. I grew several inches, and was always tired. All of those frustrations worked their way to the front after last years race, and I'm embarrassed about my conduct. Last year's race has definitely provided me with plenty of motivation, not a day goes by that I don't think about it. I feel I've trained smarter, not harder this year in preparation, but most importantly I have put on 10to 15lbs, which has really helped.
The final mile of regionals was like all my other races that year. I would go out at the pace I should have held, and then fade over the last mile.

10. You live just a few miles from Canada. Do you know any young runners there who will be coming to college in the US?

Canada doesn't offer their athletes any scholarships, so I would think that most of the runners I met last indoor season will head south for college. I'm not sure where any of them are looking, but I would highly suggest Liberty :)


Q and A with Kate Niehaus

1. Describe your season briefly and your goals for the rest of the year.

I have been very happy with my season so far this year. I have been training since the beginning of the summer, and I attended a running camp in July. I’ve improved my times and run in more competitive races than last year, including the Great American Race. Two of my major goals, however, will not be accomplished until after the Foot Locker region meet: I hope to qualify for the national meet and place in the top ten. I have been training hard with these goals in mind.

2. Describe your training and fitness this year compared to last year.

I feel much more confident in my training this year than last year. Last year, I was so new to running that neither my coach nor I knew exactly what to expect. My workouts were generic with the team, my mileage was low, and the majority of my training was very easy. I also was playing soccer during last season, so my cross-country training was accented by soccer practices and games. This year, I did solid base work during the summer (last summer I ran intermittently with my Dad), and my entire training schedule has been much more structured. My workouts are more specific to what I need to work on (for example, the Footlocker Regional Meet is three weeks after our State Meet, so my workouts anticipate a longer season than the rest of my teammates’ workouts), and my weekly mileage has increased to a maximum of 35 miles per week.

3. You have had great success at an early age. What is your background in running?

I have played soccer since I was six, and I was always one of the players who would run for the entire game. Starting towards the end of eighth grade, I would run around the neighborhood every once in awhile or go to the track to keep in shape for soccer. Once Coach Shaw (my coach, now) saw me running on the track and urged me to try cross-country, but I was not really interested. Later, during soccer conditioning, my soccer coach noticed that I was able to run fairly well, and he advised me to try cross-country. I decided to try it, but I did not actually begin running everyday until the beginning of my freshman cross-country season.

4. You were a rarity last year as a Foot Locker finalist as a freshman, but you did not finish the race in San Diego. What happened that day?

The race in San Diego was not my best. I had raced hard in both my state meet and the regional Foot Locker Meet, but running at the national level was an entirely new experience for me. I’m not exactly sure what happened that day; I think that I was a DNF for a number of reasons. However, the entire experience at the national meet exposed me to the elite runners in the country, and I was able to learn so much from it.

5. Has last year’s experience made you more determined for Foot Locker this year?

Last year’s performance was a huge disappointment, but it has definitely motivated me to make it to Foot Locker Nationals again this year. Whenever I consider taking the easy way out or not trying my best, I think about my goals for the Foot Locker meet, and I keep pushing hard.

6. How do you assess your chances at Foot Locker regional?

Right now I am very determined to place in the top eight in the South Foot Locker region meet. I know that there are a number of other talented and motivated runners in the South, which will make the race very competitive. However, I feel that I am fully prepared, mentally and physically, to run as fast as I can.

7. Do you see yourself as a runner after high school?

I really enjoy running, and I plan to continue running track and cross-country in college. Afterwards, I’m sure that I will stay in shape by running and occasionally entering in races.

8. What is your favorite activity when not running?

When I’m not running or catching up on homework, one of my favorite hobbies is drawing. I’m in an art program at school, and drawing is a relaxing and enjoyable activity for me. I also like to spend time with my friends.



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is published by
John Dye

Baltimore MD