Knights XC teams take high road in prepping for upcoming season

Knights XC teams take high road in prepping for upcoming season

The West Holmes Knights cross country team traveled to Colorado to get in a week of training in the high altitudes of the mountains. The team still found time to enjoy the scenery and do some sight seeing.


The first time may be the only time, but Kevin Beachy’s West Holmes Knights cross country team members won’t soon forget their cross-country training adventure to Leadville, Colorado June 29 to July 4, where they did plenty of altitude training and built memories that extend well beyond the scope of training for the upcoming season.

Beachy said this was a trip he had been dreaming about creating for several years, and it all came together this summer.

“The timing was perfect, and we did a little training camp session out in Colorado,” Beachy said. “It was a new experience for the kids, and running at a high altitude is a completely different ballgame.”

The key to the week was having the team work hard at high altitude, which will help build oxygen base and confidence once they return to Ohio’s lower altitude air.

“There are so many reasons I wanted to do this trip,” Beachy said. “It was an incredible bonding experience and a week that the kids enjoyed and will take with them for a long time.”

One of the reasons Beachy wanted to make the trip was as a reward for his kids. Last season saw the Lady Knights earn a spot at the state meet for the first time in school history, and all the varsity runners from that team will return. In addition, Zeke Galbraith qualified for state last season and became an All-Ohioan by placing 18th overall, and he too will return, as will a young group of hopefuls who are eager to make an impact.

“That reward was something I felt was important because we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of last season,” Beachy said.

Another reason was for the bonding experience. The entire group of athletes, coaches and some family members stayed together at a hostel called Inn in the Clouds, where they had plenty of opportunity to grow closer and build relationships.

Beachy said it wasn’t all work and practice. The group took a train ride, did some biking and ate many meals together, with the parents helping to prepare meals from the food the team brought with them.

“We only ate out twice,” Beachy said. “Our parents and my family were great at organizing all of the meals.”

While the trip included plenty of activities, Beachy said the team was there to train and improve. Running in the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains and working on the oxygen base is difficult with the thin air. That presented many challenges, but Beachy said his kids worked hard.

The training portion of the week included plenty of running, and the crew, trainers and even team yoga instructor Ruth Graham of Flex Yoga worked with the team daily.

It also included a 10-mile hike up and down Mt. Elbert, a little trip up a mountain that resides 14,440 feet above sea level. The hike is a very challenging trek that Beachy has taken before but one that his kids had never experienced. They’ve experienced it now, and it proved to be quite the challenge.

“One of the reasons I chose Leadville was that it was a challenging training area both physically and mentally,” Beachy said. “That hike up Mt. Elbert was extremely challenging for all of us, and doing things like that really helps develop our kids from a mental standpoint as much as anything. That particular hike is a safe hike up the mountain, but it is difficult. I think that was a highlight for a lot of our kids. I thought a lot of our kids overcame the mental part of the challenge and saw how something like this can help them get better and stronger as runners. The whole idea of altitude training is to create a challenge that inspires the mental part of the sport.”

Two days later came the grand finale, a 5k that proved to be challenging even after all the hard work the team put in.

The experience should do wonders for a team that has plenty of expectations heading into this fall. The girls state-qualifying team returns loaded and ready to prove last season was no fluke. Included in the list of competitors are Lexy Starner, Zora Starner, Noelle Smith, Brenna Myers, Carolyn Miller, Emily Truax and Autumn Conner, all of whom participated at state last season.

Galbraith leads a young group on the boys side, and Beachy said he has several youthful runners who are eager to make their mark, noting he has a strong freshman group this season.

“The girls are strong, and they have some big expectations, and while we are young on the boys side, we have a nice group of younger kids who simply need to tap into their potential,” Beachy said.

The season will kick off at the end of August with a 2-mile run at Northwestern, with a date at Pickerington Central slated for Aug. 27. That is important because that is the track the Knights will see during regionals, and when an open date became available to the team, Beachy said his kids jumped at the chance to head there to compete.

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