A KENYAN STYLE
Finch Arboretum Park, Spokane, WA / 90 degrees
GREATER SPOKANE LEAGUE MEET
5000 METERS / 1800 METERS OF HILLS!!!
23 September, 2009
BY: David "Hawaiian Five-Oh" Taylor
Coincidence, Fate, or Destiny? Most mathmaticians would stray away from calculating the likelihood of such amazing cross decades connections existing in one sport, in one state, and in one city. The Spokane Valley and for that matter the Greater Spokane area to include Cheney has historically been referred to as the "rift valley of American distance running" and with good measure. The Kenyans are known for being not only fast but also remarkably interconnected in bizaar ways which breeds a shared brotherhood of tradition and excellence. Somewhere, somehow nearly ever great Kenyan runner is connected by family, friends, or relatives to nearly all other great Kenyan distance runners. They have found something that others lack and they are reluctant to share it.
Nearly four decades ago a small young man from Rogers High School chose to attend the Washington State University. Lindgren brought to the table an extreme desire to succeed and the wilingness to put his mind, body and soul to the ultimate test. What most don't know about Gerry is
|THE GOLDEN STANDARD: GERRY LINDGREN|
that he, and I am being serious, never thought he would win any race and did not race to win. He put the growth and success of others before him and felt that it was his responsibility to "prove himself worthy" through helping others to succeed. Clint Eastwood is renowned for saying "a man has got to know his limitations" and Gerry felt it was his divine commission to help everyone reach theirs. Shadle Coach "Rapid Robert" Isitt ran on that Rogers team with Gerry, coached by Legendary Tracy Walters (now coincidentally at North Central). Additionally, while at Whitworth Isitt traveled the nation with Gerry competing against the best. Gerry undoubtedly brought out the best in people and he was the "true" start of the Kenyan tradition in the Inland Northwest, and I will explain.
Before there was Pre, before there was Ryun, there was Gerry Lindgren. He set the standard by which all greats have judged themselves at the High School and Collegiate level. He inspired Pre to do more and to be more, and that is well documented and indisputable. He inspired Ryun, running 4:00 the year prior to Ryun's record run. Amazingly, after hearing what Gerry had done Ryun stated "If that little kid can run 4:00 I can break 4 minutes!" and he did the following year. I spoke to Gerry about this a few years back in Hawaii and he used to smile really big and talk forever about that lanky kid from Kansas who called him out on breaking 4 minutes! Gerry only wished he had the hindsight to train at 59 second pace, because all those 60s only prepared him to run 60s!
His three NCAA Cross Country crowns and multiple track championships inspired John Chaplin at WSU who decided to start giving Kenyan athletes a chance in an American University setting. It is well documented that the training they performed was perfected under the extreme duress of Gerry Lindgren who surpassed human capabilities simply to show that they were there, in an age when everyone was reluctant to even try. Chaplin inturn recycled those workouts, tempered with reason, on the rolling hills of the Palouse.
Those Kenyan athletes with the combined experience of Gerry Lindgren, John Chaplin, and the legacy of Kip Keino achieve phenominal heights over the next few decades, laying the foundation for what has become a Kenyan domination of the sport. Truly Tracy Walters and the little kid that could were the small stone which has led to such a vast Kenyan legacy, a legacy born in the Spokane Valley.
So, lets expand on what we already know and discover a bit more...Central Valley boys Coach
|COACH MAHONEY, CENTRAL VALLEY|
|EXPERIENCE AT ITS BEST: COACH ISITT|
Kieran Mahoney was a student at Eastern Washington University in the late 1980s. Before that he ran at Cheney high school under amazingly "Doctor J" Martin, who as previously discovered is connected to nearly every coach in the valley. Defying the odds and leaning towards divine providence Coach Mahoney was assigned, as part of his student teaching requirement to become a teacher, as a student teacher for none other then Shadle Park's "Rapid Robert" Isitt. What is even more remarkable is what would happen next...his second student teaching requirement would be assigned to yet another CROSS COUNTRY COACH!!! What are the odds!! Named Pat Tyson at Mead High School. We know and are aware of Pat's connection in this big ball of yarn...but who would have thought or predicted that Coach Mahoney would one day assume the head of Central Valley's Cross Country team?
The plot gets thicker...Coach Mahoney's wife was also previously a runner under....you guessed it "Rapid Robert" Isitt! To add icing to the cake, Coach McGuire, the Central Valley girls coach was also a student under "Doctor J" Martin at Cheney who he labels as a "great person, a truly iconic type of guy". After 26 years of coaching, Coach McGuire states that "it is all about affecting kids lives, and I am still in contact with kids I coached in the 1980s". What began four decades ago on the fields of Rogers High has expanded, grown, and inspired an entire city, region, and nation with an imcomparible legacy.
And now we come full circle as the US#7 Shadle Park girls continue to display that they may well be the greatest girls cross country team Spokane has produced, and surprise, surprise, it is under the guidance and leadership of Coach "Rapid Robert" Isitt.
While under Coach Isitt, Coach Mahoney observed how to relax and enjoy the art of mentoring and guiding young adults and no other sport provides as firm a foundation as the team centered art of Cross Country. While serving with Pat Tyson, Coach Mahoney discovered "winter training" and a continued passion for youth achievement added upon the enthusiasm gained from Isitt.
"We train, suffer, and race together" Mahoney says, and "that is the Kenyan style" or should I say the Spokane Style began under Tracy Walters and carried forth to the world through the missionaryesc efforts of nearly everyone he or those associated with him touched.
FERRIS BOYS: THE SPOKANE STYLE
Ferris: 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th in Stanford tune up!
The US#4 Ferris Boys train together, suffer together, and race together putting the team first. That
|WA#4 NATHAN WEITZ, SHADLE|
|FERRIS, 5 IN TOP 7 THROUGH 1 MI|
was clearly evident today as US#16 Adam Thorne and the Senior class ran to win as a team and set up a favorable situation where Sophomore Alex Kimsey was able to lead the team from the front, gaining valuable confidence, and eventually winning a remarkable duel against fellow Sophomore WA#4 Nathan Weitz (Shadle Park). Weitz himself achieved something special in overcoming WA#3 Allan Schroeder of Mt. Spokane. Weitz, coached by "Bullfrog" Bruce Heffercamp, has steadily improved week after week as he gains more experience in the sport. You might recall this last spring he broke the Greater Spokane League freshman records in the 1600M (4:19) and 3200M (9:13), which were set long ago by Spokane running legends from Mead High School.
Ferris looks good, really good right now as they continue to improve in leaps and bounds under the mentorship and guidance of Coach "hardway" Hadway. In what is a tune-up for this weeks all important Stanford Invitational the Ferris boys set aside individual goals for team unity and growth and put forth a remarkable showing of team work and sacrifice. The big red wave of Ferris seems destined from something greater and we can only hope that they will perform well against multiple National top 10 teams also making the trip to Stanford. STAY TUNED: ON THE ROAD WITH FERRIS: STANFORD RANKING SHAKEDOWN!
SHADLE PARK GIRLS: THE SPOKANE STYLE
Shadle: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th in Mountain West Classic tune-up
It is said that "preparation is the hallmark of a professional" and both Coach Isitt and his outstanding group of seven harrier girls certainly are becoming professionals in preparation. In what was to be a tune-up against the defending league champion Central Valley girls, Coach Isitt actually told his girls to take it easy and not to push until the last mile. Now note, this is a course with 1800 meters of uphill and he wanted them to take it easy against a formidable opponent and kick the last mile. And yet, they won placing 6 in the top 10. I watched as Coach Isitt stood silent, staring off into the distance as if in another place...perhaps going through the catalogues of teams he has coached, and I asked, "how many times have you won the league title" and he replied "once"...he then bit his lip, grabbed his sides and said "I think we must be pretty good because we have never done that before". Despite running times over the last three weeks which have yielded the Shadle girls a meteoric rise in National Rankings to US#7, Coach Isitt is still only coming to grasps with what he has on his hands...a team that could do a lot more than win a league title.
|SHADLE PARKS MICHAELA LINDLEY AND HAPPY DAD, RICK LINDLEY!|
|POST RACE ANALYSIS WITH COACH!|
They are fired up as well with a new found love of the sport...consider, this is a team composed of a
two time defending individual Champion (Andrea Nelson) and a cast of first timers...a Freshman Phenom, a Soccer star turned full-time runner, and a volleyball state champion who confronted Coach Isitt two weeks into last track season about running. She would go on to run an 11:30 two mile in her first spring! Talent and coaching has shocked the Spokane Valley and nation!
This saturday the girls face their toughest test yet at the Great Mountain West Classic in Missoula, Montana. I have to be honest, I am cheering for Shadle Park. Shadle Park was not even on my radar before the season began. They have proceeded to shock me week in and out and truthfully their cheerfulness grows on you. Last week at the Highlander Invitational I witness the greatest team race of my life. Their enthusiasm, energy, and team commraderie are second to none from the first runner to the seventh runner. I am a believer and its my estimation that fairly soon, a great part of the nation will be rooting for the girls in green from Shadle Park.
Seven is one and the best is yet to come!!!
|US#7 SHADLE PARK GIRLS CONTINUE THEIR DRIVE TO A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP|