R-C Sports Notebook: New league, just as tough

With the shake-up of the Northern 4A athletic leagues heading into the fall season, the Sierra League was already going to present a number of intriguing matchups in every sport.

A quiet (but in its own way huge) hiring by Bishop Manogue last week has added yet another storyline to the mix.

The Miners girls' basketball team has been improving every season since it joined the 4A, but last week it was announced that Richard Shaw had been hired as the program's new head coach.

Tiger fans know Shaw better as the man who renewed the Reed High School dynasty before leaving the program two seasons ago.

Shaw and Douglas coach Werner Christen had some epic battles between 2003 and 2005, including Douglas knocking the Raiders out of the playoffs in 2003 and a 62-58 playoff classic during which the Raiders prevailed in 2005.

Expect Shaw to bring in a team next season led by strong guard play and staunch defense.

At this point (and it is obviously beyond early) the league title race is anyone's to take.

Galena and Manogue should probably be considered the favorites, but Douglas comes in with a couple of key scorers and plenty of solid athletes. Carson has been improving greatly over the last two years and Fallon always produces a competitive group.

That's not to say anything of upstart Damonte Ranch, a surprisingly good South Tahoe squad from last season and an improving Wooster program. Should be a fun season all the way around.

The 2008 Sertoma Classic All-Star Football game is Friday night at Mackay Stadium in Reno, and as always the two rosters are full of some of the very best the region has to offer.

It should be a great game on all accounts (Douglas has six players - Brock Peterson, Brandon Lowrance, Curtis Hartzell, Luke Wartgow, Mike Colyer and Jeff Nady - suiting up for the Silver squad), but I noticed a couple oddities on the Blue team roster.

First (and foremost), there isn't a quarterback listed. Was this just a tremendous gaffe during the selection process or was there a last-minute dropout? I guess we'll never know.

Doubtless, I can't sese Reno coach Dan Avansino, who is charged with coaching the Blue squad this year, heading through the week without a quarterback (practice started Monday, so I'm sure the issue has already been resolved).

My best guess, and it is only a guess, is that they will either convert Sparks' Aaron Quilici or invite McQueen's duo threat of Connor Brant and Spencer Downie.

McQueen, the Northern 4A champ and state runner-up, was strange to me because they only have two players (running backs Styker Ngongoseke and Derek Martindale) on the roster.

Comparitively, Galena has seven players on the team, Reno has six and Sparks has five.

Inviting one or both of the Lancer quarterbacks out would help even the numbers up and also solve the quarterback situation, but for all I know, they were invited and had other plans.

I guess we'll find out Friday.

Douglas cross country coach Keith Cole informed me recently that he would not be coaching the team this fall.

He said it was time to take a break and spend more time with his family.

It brings to an end an eight-season stretch with the cross country team. Cole also coached the track & field team from 1999 to 2003 and, of course, was instrumental in getting the all-weather track installed at Dougals.

Jay Frey, who started coaching with the team this past season and has worked with the track team's middle distance runners for the past two years, will assume the reigns this fall.

Just a little background here: I got this wild idea in my head a couple weeks ago that I was going to attempt to compete in the all-comers track meets at South Lake Tahoe this July and August.

The idea up there is that these weekly meets, held on Thursdays and conducted by area track official Anthony Davis, are open to anyone ages 2 to 99.

Last week, on the advice of a friendly reader, I began what will be a four-week training schedule that will hopefully have me running a decent 800 by July 10 (the first meet).

I started by running 100-meter stretches focusing entirely on my mechanics and technique. I did 10 repetitions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and threw in a three-mile run at an easy pace on Tuesday.

By the end of the week, my legs were just about dead and my best time was shamefully 4:07 (14 seconds worse than my baseline time).

I took two days to rest over the weekend, though, and came out Monday morning running 200 meter splits (five repetitions) at a quicker pace than I was able to run in the 100 meters last week and with much more ease than I had last week.

This was a much-needed confidence boost for me, because I'd started having dreams of being lapped by the ants on the track at the first meet. This current pace would put me at my 3-minute goal for the first meet. We'll see if it holds.

What I've been doing is running hard, but not sprinting, during these sessions " trying to keep a quick pace that doesn't force me into bad mechanics.

Next week I'll bump it up to 300-meter splits (4 reps) and 400 meters (3 reps) the week after. I'm hoping to come into the week of the first meet running three 800 meter splits.

I wanted to talk for a second about this technique I've been working on.

Drawing from several individuals and articles, I'm basically just trying to keep my shoulders relaxed and some semblance of a straight line between my ears and my ankles with a slight lean forward from my ankles.

I've been told my arms should swing straight forward with no sideways movement and with the elbows never advancing past the front of my body. Anything more and I would be expending too much energy.

The swing leg (again, I'm told) should pull through the stride almost parallel to the ground (this requires a sort of kick back toward my hamstring) and my feet should be landing with a rolling motion starting at the midfoot.

One reader wrote that I should never be striking with my heel and I should not hear my foot slapping against the track. Instead there should be a "glide" to each step.

It's a lot to keep in mind, but in the week I've been working on it, I have already noticed an improvement.

Hopefully, this will help anyone else out there looking to get into running. At the end of the day, though, all it is really about is increasing your activity and fitness.

For all this "training," I'm still just in this to try to get in shape. So far it seems to be working.

In the four months since I took up jogging, my body fat percentage has come down by five full percentage points, which was without any significant changes to my diet or the rest of my daily routine.

This will be a weekly column item through the summer, so anyone with any tips, suggestions or stories of their own is more than welcome to contact me at jcrandalll@recordcourier.com

Stats for Week 2, 800 meters: Baseline time, 3:53 (Ugh). Best time this summer: 3:53. Best time this week: 4:07. Goal in order to run in a meet: 3:00. Goal for the summer: 2:44.


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