Cross country runners at Brookings-Harbor High School are giving Head Coach Terry Axel pause.
Not because they are running too slowly or are getting lost all the time, but because they are constantly beating their personal records and have forced him to rethink his incentive strategies.
“I haven’t made a push-up bet with them yet this year,” he said. “They all keep improving on their times and setting PRs. I’m not sure I’d be able to do all the push-ups required if I bet them.”
Axel, in the past, has made bets with athletes that required him to do push-ups for every runner who beat their personal record at a particular race.
He has also made bets that required the shaving of his mustache and jumping off the bridge at Woahink lake.
All of Axel’s efforts have pushed his runners to exceed their boundaries over the more than 15 years he has been coaching.
“I’ve had four kids go out of here on running scholarships,” he said. “Cross country can take you to college.”
Not only has the incentive program worked to shave seconds off of times, it has also brought more athletes to the school’s running program.
“We’ve got 25 runners this year,” Axel explained. “This is the largest number of runners I’ve ever had.”
The Bruins last challenge was the Prefontaine Memorial run in Eugene where BHHS competitors faced off against top runners from schools in California and Oregon, including Roseburg and Arcata high schools.
In team scores, the Bruins finished fourth out of 12 teams on the boys’ side and were led by sophomore Chris Burton (16:53) who finished seventh overall behind just one Far West League runner from Marshfield.
The girls finished ninth out of 11 teams but, according to Axel, were missing a number of top runners because of a home soccer game to which some of the girls were committed.
The top finisher on the girls’ team was Deborah Lawrence who came in 16th with a time of 21:47.
Both Lawrence and Burton’s times were seconds off their personal bests, but the course was very hilly and difficult.
According to Axel their times on a flatter course with a regular number of competitors would lead them to personal records.
“They are both running really well right now,” Axel said. “The whole team is running really well.”
The Bruins competed in the Pacific High Cape Run yesterday (Sept. 24) but results were not available at press time.
They will compete at the Woahink Lake Invitational on Saturday as they prepare for the Far West League championships coming up Thursday, Oct. 24.
All results from races can be seen on the team’s page at http://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/School.aspx?SchoolID=163.