//Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes and Idle Gossip (Aug. 28, 2014)

Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes and Idle Gossip (Aug. 28, 2014)

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CADENZAOne of the cardinal rules of high-level college and professional coaching is “Thou Shall Not Diss A Fellow Coach.” Especially one (s) you replace. Look no further than classy Charlie Strong, who since he took over for Mack Brown, hasn’t publicly uttered a word of criticism of Brown. Strong has gone out of his way to be gracious in his praise of Brown. Whether they mean it or not, coaches just don’t speak ill of their brethren.

Evidently, second-year UT distance and cross-country coach Brad Herbster never got the memo.

In Thursday’s Austin American-Statesman, Ryan Autullo wrote a preview of the upcoming Longhorn cross-country season. In the article, Autullo mentions that former All-Stater Sandie Raines, who is from Kingwood, is eligible to compete this season after transferring to Texas from Arkansas.

Autullo quotes Herbster: “I saw that she left Texas, and I thought how in the world could she get out of Texas? She got out because they never called her. She always liked Austin, always liked Texas, but she didn’t want to go to a program that wasn’t doing anything. Marielle {Hall} kind of paved the way.”

Ouch.

In that one blast, Herbster denigrated all the work that his predecessors at UT–Steve Sisson and John Hayes—had done. Meanwhile, Herbster also found a way to take credit for the undeniably great season that Marielle Hall had (Big 12 and regional winner in cross-country, NCAA champ in the 5000) in 2013-14.

I don’t know anything about the recruiting process that took place of Raines (or whether she was even recruited by Texas), but I do know that schools miss out on top-flight prospects all the time for a variety of reasons (see Brown, Mack on misses such as RG111, Johnny Football, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, ad nauseam). It happens.

I also know that the Texas distance programs have been hamstrung in recent years by a lack of scholarships as the school focused on sprinters and throwers. Most high-level track programs with any NCAA hopes prefer to put most of their scholarship money into throwers and sprinters who can double and triple in meets and score many more points than distance runners who are also much more injury-prone.

But what really chaps me is Herbster’s assertion that the UT distance programs weren’t “doing anything.” Hayes had done a terrific job of recruiting such studs as Craig Lutz, Ryan Dohner and Mark Pinales, while Sisson had landed Hall from New Jersey and coached her for three years into national prominence.

Both programs were on the upswing when new UT head coach Mario Sategna decided to hire Herbster from Clemson to replace Hayes and Sisson. In Herbster’s first year, Lutz and Dohner ran well (both finished in the top 15 in the NCAA cross-country champs and the UT men placed 14th), while Hall had the greatest season of any UT woman distance runner and is a solid candidate for the World Champs team next year.

Certainly, Herbster deserves some of the credit for not messing up what Sisson and Hayes started. But he should give credit where credit is due, namely to Hayes and Sisson who built and recruited those teams. (Herbster didn’t get hired until mid-July last year and inherited ready-made teams.)

Since his hiring, Herbster has had plenty of time to recruit his own distance crew. Several freshman are listed on both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams for this year, but none are are high-profile recruits who are expected to make much of an impact with the possible exception of Raines who will be a sophomore.

Of the ’14 team, Herbster said: “I think by mid-October we’ll shock some people. People will say Texas is all of sudden pretty good, pretty quick with no-name people.”

Hmm. That’s usually coach talk for the cupboards are bare, but that just isn’t the case. Herbster has senior leadership in Lutz, Dohner and Mark Pinales on the men’s side and has Raines to lead the women.

Herbster is often hanging around The Rock on Sunday mornings, waiting for his runners to finish up long runs and whenever I’ve spoken to him, seems like a friendly, nice guy. Let’s hope he coaches better than he speaks.

Just repeat after me: Never speak ill of the dead…or fired coaches you replace.

*****

O More UT: The men’s team is ranked 23rd in the preseason poll, while the women are unranked. The top five men’s teams are Colorado, Stanford, Northern Arizona, Oregon (natch) and Oklahoma State.

O If you’re planning a long run this weekend completely around the Lady Bird Lake/Butler Trail, you’ll need to detour (or stealth run) across the Longhorn Dam at the eastern end of the trail. Crews are doing maintenance work on the dam’s gates and the trail at that point (a sidewalk) is closed until September 15th. Pleasant Valley Road is still open to traffic (though subject to periodic closures) so if you run early enough, you can probably still get across the dam on the road.

O An increasingly popular adventure run among Texas runners has been running the Grand Canyon trail from the south to the north rim or trying to do the rim-to-rim-rim (south to north, back to the south) in a single day. There’s a group I know of from Austin going in October for a rim to rim, but the National Park Service has always frowned on this because of overuse and crowding on the trails. The Grand Canyon National Park is now instituting a permit system as of September 15th that will require groups of hikers and runners to get special use permits. Individual runners and hikers can still use the trails without a permit (for the time being). The permits are only required for the inner canyon—close to the Colorado which all rim to rim hikers and runners must cross. The National Park Service still doesn’t allow any races in the Grand Canyon even though ad hoc rim-to-rim races have been contested for years.

O The first race in the 2014-15 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge is rapidly approaching. The Run Free Texas ’80s 8-K (just short of five miles) on September 14th will serve as the kickoff race this year. This second-year race in Cedar Park will start and finish just outside beautiful Gupton Stadium and the course has recently been certified by Danny Spoonts.

O The Leander/Cedar Park area is becoming an increasingly popular area for races. In addition to the 8-K, it will host the Rogue Distance Festival (30-K and half marathon) again (January 11) as well as the 19th annual Cedar Park 5-Miler (November 2) and the 5th annual Rogue Rescue Run 5-K (September 28).

O Leonel Manzano is back in Europe. After winning an 800 meters last Thursday night in 1:46.60, he has spent the entire week with his coach John Hayes at a training camp in France. Leo The Lion has five more meets scheduled in the second half of his European tour.

O Kyle Merber, who ran for UT last year as a grad student (from Columbia), is taking a break from racing the mile. He’s headed to New Zealand for a vacation and then will finish his competitive season at the 5th Avenue Mile in New York.

O TriggerPoint Performance Therapy, the Austin-based company which makes foam rollers, is getting ready to mark the one million units mark for sales of its GRID foam roller. Launched in 2009, the GRID foam roller has become de rigueur for runners and all sorts of athletes for training and recovery. Says Cassidy Phillips of Austin who founded the company, “It has become a global phenomenon and we are humbled by the response and success the GRID has experienced.” To celebrate the millionth sale, TriggerPoint will reward whoever buys it with a one-of-a-kind golden colored GRID signed by Cassidy. Congrats!

O Once again, a contingent from Rogue will head to Northern California for the Tahoe Triple (lucky them). The Tahoe Triple (September 12-14) consists of a marathon a day around Tahoe. Carolyn Mangold, Tory Nickell, Steven Hamilton, Natasha MacNevin and Caitlin Rogozinski are running the three consecutive marathons, while Angela McKnight, Jenny Bowden and Denise Ewers will run three straight half marathons. Michael Wedel is upping the ante. He won last year’s Triple, but this time he’s doing the Super Ultra which consists of a marathon on each of the first two days, followed by 78 miles around the lake on the final day. Good luck with that.

O What I’m listening to this morning: “Mountain Tracks, Volume 3” by Yonder Mountain String Band. Love these guys even though founder Jeff Austin has left this terrific bluegrass band from Colorado.

Have any news for me? If you have something good, send it along to wish@texasrunningpost.com.

The weekly “Heard” column is brought to you by The Cadenza Group – an Austin-based real estate company involved in the running community, serving your home buying, selling and leasing needs!

Wish

About Wish

Bob “Wish” Wischnia has more than 30 years of running industry experience across publishing, retail, web, and race organization. An Arizona State University alum, Wischnia has been a runner virtually his entire life, still competing in track and road race competitions. And in the free time he’s not pounding the pavement? He’s swimming, cycling, and catching days on the green.

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