Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NXN: Wayzata's Miles Describes the Meet

Last Sunday, three Minnesota high school teams qualified for Nike Cross Nationals thanks to their stellar performances at the NXN Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Competing as "club teams" -- and without the help of their in-season coaches who can't have contact with them -- the state's top squads earned the right to compete at the NXN final in Portland, Oregon on December 4.

In boys competition, MSHSL Class AA champions Wayzata won the regional with 113 points, while Edina, 5th in Class AA, finished runner-up with 124 points. In girls' competition, Class AA champ Eden Prairie won the region with a scant 57 points.
(We understand the EP girls were coached at the meet by TC Running Company owner Adam Lindahl, who is a generous sponsor of Down the Backstretch.)

To get a sense of what NXN competition is all about, we talked to Wayzata coach Bill Miles about the meet and how it differs from the State Meet and regular season racing.

Bill Miles:
The biggest difference for me is the change in my role. I have not coached them for a week or two (depending on the schedule for that year), so I am there as a spectator. Having said that, I think that I know the kids pretty well and have watched them train and race for four to six years, so I feel comfortable answering your questions.

How did the race play out for your guys?

The race course was tighter than is ideal for us, so it looked like it was more of a struggle to move through the field than at St. Olaf. Our kids seemed to keep their focus and composure and kept moving up throughout the entire race. Looking at the splits that are posted at the meet website, it looks like we didn't take the lead until the last mile.

How is an NXN regional different than a State Meet?

Miles: As a spectator it is significantly different, because you don't know the uniforms. It's even hard to pick out the kids you're cheering on. I'm so used to looking for blue and gold uniforms at meets and then on Sunday I'm looking for all black uniforms. It's confusing for an old man.

Another obvious difference is the mystery. When you're bringing together teams from seven states, you really don't know how you'll stack up. You haven't raced each other as much or have as many common opponents as with your in-state rivals. When you go to the State Meet, you're more familiar with most of your opponents.

Other than that, they are both 5K cross country races in November against really good competition. Our kids love to race and competing for a State Title for yourself, your teammates and your school is incredibly exciting just as competing for a chance for your team to compete together in a national meet is thrilling.

Do you ever worry about a let-down for guys at NXN Regionals, especially after winning a state title?

Miles: Not really. The environment at Sioux Falls is electric. Our kids are fit and not over raced. They've been thinking about the State Meet and the Nike Regional Meets since June. Kraig Lungstrom, our Wayzata XC Club Coach, does a great job with the kids and has them ready to go. Why worry?

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