Cross-country teams intensify summer training

June 23

The Hood River Valley High School cross-country program is at a crossroads.

But instead of waiting around and wondering what’s going to happen in the fall, coaches Kristen Uhler and Rich Hedges are moving ahead with their plans.

Despite a lack of formal funding from the school district, the HRV cross-country program is still looking ahead to next year.

And in an effort to keep the runners prepared for the upcoming season, Uhler and Hedges accompanied 10 high-school runners to the June 15-18 Flathead Lake Distance Running Camp near Kalispell, Mont.

“The idea is to get the kids started in June so that they can build up to the start of the season,” Uhler said. “This camp is very intense but also very fun. And I think it helped our team realize how we can take our program to the next level.”

Joining the two coaches on the trip were senior Alex Jimenez, juniors Kevin Dye, Janne Lucas, Jennifer Jefferies, Jenna Fisher and Yolanda Ledezma, and sophomores Gary Paasch, Melissa Kauffman, Melissa Princehouse and Anna Smith.

Because the program is operating on a limited budget, it needed help from the local community. So Hood River Dodge/Jeep stepped in and allowed the team to use two vehicles to get them to Montana.

“We are so grateful to the people at Hood River Dodge,” Uhler said. “They were a big part of making this trip happen.”

The camp is directed by former collegiate runner and junior National Champion Bill Brist. Guest coaches included Pat Tyson of Mead High School in Spokane, Wash., and Dale Kennedy of Montana State University.

The camp is open to all distance runners entering ninth through 12th grades, and takes participants around to a series of eight trails that reach 5,000 feet of elevation.

“I want to take this program to the next level,” Uhler said, “and the only way to do that is to start training now. All the other teams in our league are busy this summer, and we need to keep up.”

Uhler said all the other Intermountain Conference schools are moving ahead with plans for a cross-country season. HRV will have a team, but the coach will be paid by a private donation from the Hood River community.

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