PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Gough, Nevada Union enjoying stellar season
October 20, 2017
It's been nearly 14 years since a Nevada Union boys varsity team has made an appearance at the CIF State Cross Country Championships. If they keep up the pace they are on this season, though, they just might snap that streak.
Led by junior Garrett Gough, the Nevada Union squad has been a pleasant surprise.
Gough has been phenomenal this year, earning four first place and two second place finishes in Nevada Union's first six cross country meets. Some of his times have been outright dominant, besting the second place runner by 30 seconds or more. His success has rightfully created a buzz, but he's taking it in stride.
"Being successful in cross country is really all about hard work, dedication and consistency," said Gough of his success. "But it's also about my teammates, because we all push each other to be better."
That's not a case of fake humility, according to co-head coaches Sara Freitas and Angela Marino, but the real deal.
"He's special, but I don't think he realizes how good he is. I mean, I think he's starting to realize it, because he's winning," Marino laughed. "But he's really humble … and it's brought the team together and motivated them."
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Gough isn't the only one who has impressed this season, however, as both Benjamin Fogiel and Decker Krogh have added multiple top-10 finishes of their own. The trio, along with Cameron Richards, Wyatt Gough, Josh Ross and Joshua Fairchild, comprise a team that is as tough as nails and making moves up the Sierra Foothill League cross country hierarchy.
For Freitas, the longer tenured of the two coaches, this year's boys varsity team is one she's especially proud of.
"These are the same kids we've been working with for the past three years," she said. "They seem more motivated this year because they feel it, they sense it, they know it and their success is showing. We've never come in second place in the SFL in all of the year's we've been in the league, so this is the best team we've had since 2004."
The mental aspect of cross country is perhaps the most important, Freitas pointed out. When you're out running, you enter a "deep place of pain" that makes many want to quit, she said. It's a sentiment Fogiel echoed, saying that the success of one teammate pushes the others to work harder.
"Garrett (Gough) has been a big part of our success this year," he said. "But we've all improved quite a bit, so that's what's given us an advantage and allowed us to be where we are right now. You've just got to get into the mindset and learn how to sustain yourself throughout your runs. You need to stay strong mentally."
Last Friday, Nevada Union traveled to Fresno to take part in the Roosevelt Roughrider Cross Country Invitational in what was a big opportunity for the boys varsity to take part in a meet with stiff competition. Going up against some of the largest high schools in Southern California, Nevada Union surprised, placing 10th among 38 teams that competed in their category. Garrett Gough came in fourth, while Decker Krogh placed 55th, impressive feats considering 287 runners participated in the race.
Now, the team prepares for the SFL Championships on Friday. If they can continue on past the Sac-Joaquin Section Cross Country Championships, the state meet will take place on Nov. 25. For now, however, the team is taking it one step at a time.
"We usually have an individual that does really well, but never a full team," said Marino. "I'm excited. It's a big deal, and I don't think they know what we've got yet. They are pretty humble, they're not cocky. And that's pretty cool."
Spencer Kellar is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union regularly.
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