Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cross Country NEWS (literally)

Article from TREMONTON LEADER Fall Sports Preview, August 25, 2010
Oxborrow hopes to erase state frustration  
Leader Publisher

Brenden Oxborrow went into the 2009 state 3Across-country championships with a lot of confidence. He came out a broken young man. Oxborrow had finished fourth at the Region 11 championships the week before and felt he had a great chance of placing in the top ten as a junior.  Instead, Oxborrow made a grave mistake that morning and hadn’t eaten breakfast before the race, which was held in the afternoon. What happened to the Bears’top runner was frightening to him and his coach.

Oxborrow, the son of Ken and Julie Oxborrow of Garland and Tonia and Hayden Fraser of Lehi, said he hit the wall with about a mile to go in the 3.1-mile race. He hadn’t eaten enough that day and used up all his energy.  He staggered in at a disappointing 77th place. After the race he couldn’t even stand up and was throwing up all over.  “I was pretty incoherent for the last half mile and can’t remember some of it,” said Oxborrow. “I should have been a top ten [placer].” After having such high hopes going into the race he was crushed.  “It was devastating. That was the last time I remember crying. I was just crushed by it. It was a humbling experience. But, then again, it was an experience to learn from; not to let it happen again,” said Oxborrow. Coach Dan Line said it was a frightening experience for those at the race.

“That was scary, as a coach, to see him go through that,” Line said last week. “I told him he was not running for five weeks after that. He stayed away and slowly rebuilt himself. He has got himself back to where he is ready for his senior year.  He looks as strong as ever.”  Oxborrow used that disappointment to drive him during the off-season. Immediately after the season ended he gathered the returning varsity runners and had them set training goals for the summer. According to Line, most of them met the goals. When asked about his senior’s leadership skills, Line said Oxborrow is a great team leader.  “He has a good personality and good sense of humor. We encourage him to reach out and set an example [to his teammates],” Line said. “He has the respect [of his teammates] by the way he conducts himself.”  
Those leadership skills came from studying previous team captains Chris Brower and Zach Christensen. Both former BR cross country stars took the young freshman under their wings and built him up from a kid who really wasn’t sure he wanted to run, into a polished distance runner. “ I don’t think I would be anywhere close to where I am without them,” Oxborrow said of his former teammates. “I am the number one runner now so I have a different motivation. I see guys improving below me and it gives me a new level of competition.”

Oxborrow said there are a few runners who really should have great years. That group includes Jeff Chadwick, because “he is always working hard.” Bracken Rawlinson was only three seconds behind Oxborrow at region and came in fifth.  “Tanner Christensen has been working really hard this summer. He ran more miles than I did this summer.” He said he is looking for great things from Spencer Stamps, a sophomore, who had a good freshman cross country season “but he just totally
came alive in track. I am 100 percent expecting him to get a varsity spot this year in cross country.”

I asked Oxborrow how he got into cross-country. He was more into basketball because his dad was the BRHS freshman coach and also coaches tennis. He played basketball as a frosh and sophomore, but cross-country is where he excelled.  It turns out that he started the sport because Line worked on him and he was looking for something to do during the fall. “Brenden has progressed really nicely and is such a nice kid. He made the decision himself that he wanted to be a great runner,” said Line. “It has been fun to see him develop as a runner and a leader. He has grown up right before our eyes. He responded well to leadership as a young runner.” 
It turns out Oxborrow is also a very multi-talented young man. He is an accomplished drummer for the BRHS jazz band and is part of the Band of Stability, a high school band made up of a group of BR students.

It is difficult to try to explain the mind of a runner. What would possess a person to put themselves through the pain and suffering a long distance runner goes through during a race. The pace drains their muscles and makes their lungs burn as they struggle to get enough air to keep themselves alive during the 3.1-mile race.  Add into that the opening 300 yards at the Belmont Golf Course race, a nearly 15 degree uphill climb, and you really wonder how crazy these people are.  Oxborrow says it is mind over matter and a will to succeed that is second to none. “You have to have the endurance to put yourself through the pain of a 3-mile race two to three times a week as fast as you can.  
It is painful,” Oxborrow said, adding the competition will be stiffer for him at state this year. “It is a fast pace once you get up to where the top of the state is.”  Like all great athletes he loves the competition between his teammates and opponents.  “I love the competitive feeling and being able to see yourself and your teammates grow. To see improvement and see your times get faster,” said Oxborrow. The sport is also great because you compete as a team as well as an individual. “It’s good because if you don’t have the backup it is still easy to stay self motivated [to qualify for state]. Whereas in basketball if you are the only good guy on your team you won’t go anywhere.”  
He expects the winning time at state to be in the high 15-minute range or very low 16s. As far as a goal, he has set it at 16:15 by the time state rolls around. As for region, he took 10th as a sophomore and 4th as a junior, so there is only one way to go.  The door appears to be wide open because the top three placers at region all graduated.  Motivated by the state scare, he says he has put in the extra work needed to succeed in this, his last year of high school competition.  “It is kind of scary because I only have one more chance. This is the one; there is no room for slipups. I have got to do my best. I have just put in so many more miles. I have trained a lot harder. I got myself better to hit the season with a running start – no pun intended,” Oxborrow said. “[The experience at state last year] has driven me to put a lot more miles in this summer.” 
The year looks good already for the team, Oxborrow  said, with nearly everyone back from last year’s region championship team. Goals are high, including a repeat region title and contending for a state title. It should be within their grasp with this close-knit bunch.  “I love the camaraderie.  For as much as there is a competitive side [to the team] there is a friendly side as well.  There is such a brotherhood. We really care about each other,” said Oxborrow.  Alot of those state aspirations rest firmly on Oxborrow’s shoulders. Line said they couldn’t have a repeat of 2009 if they want a chance to win the team’s first state championship.  “The number one goal [Brenden needs] is to have a fantastic race at state. Not because of what happened last year and because he has the experience at state the last two years. We need him to be a top ten at state so the other boys will follow him,” Line said. “If he does, we have a great chance to get a trophy.”  As he approaches his senior year, Oxborrow stands with his feet firmly planted on the ground; not getting too high or low. 
He stays busy by sharing his musical talents and being a senior class senator, a member of the Garland City youth council and an Eagle Scout.  He does have plans for the future, and if that includes running in college that would be great (though knee and back problems may kill that dream). Other plans include an LDS mission and college.  But for now his focus is on running and running well.  “I think everybody will continue to work hard and do what we need to do to win the state championship,” Oxborrow said. With the depth and talent coming back to the team, don’t be surprised if the Bears are hoisting some gold this fall.

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