Sophomore Stephanie Spencer ran the second best time of her life at the National Cross-Country championships Nov. 21. Spencer’s performance at nationals finished up the cross-country season.
“Stephanie had a breakout year this year, she’s now running with the top kids in the region and country,” said head coach Matthew Lydum.
Spencer’s performance was second only to her race a week earlier at the regional championships in Southern California.
Lydum was hired in a quick turn of events after previous head coach Brent Eriksen, took a position at Portland State University over the summer. Lydum said the transition went as smoothly as could be expected and the season was very successful.
To help with the adjustment to a new coach and coaching style, Assistant Athletic Director Lauren Esbensen assisted in practices and travel. Esbensen ran cross-country in college and Lydum said the team was very fortunate to have her.
“Lauren even brought her dog to our hard Saturday practices,” Lydum said.
“He was a good therapy dog for our tough mile repeat sets.”
He said all of the athletes PR’d at the conference or regional championships, which was their goal. Part of the transition to a new coaching style was an adjustment to a more modern coaching style.
Lydum explained his contemporary workouts as more work on the entire body, strengthening the hips, core and legs.
He said the previous trend was to build up mileage, but he spends more time building high-end speed, which helps prevent the athletes from getting injured. He said this workout is more mentally engaging for most athletes as well.
Spencer was the female frontrunner all season, along with senior Steve Allen on the men’s side. Lydum said Allen did well at regionals, scoring All- Region by placing in the top 35.
While Lydum said the team was challenged by its small numbers, which were effected by the coaching turnover in the last three years, he feels he has a stable footing in the program and is looking forward to more sustained recruiting. He now looks toward coaching track and field this spring.
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