Keller HS Head Coach Brian Zaring
The United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released its boys and girls national coaches of the year on Wednesday, naming Loudoun Valley (VA) High boys coach Marc Hunter and Keller (TX) High Girls coach Brian Zaring as its winners.
Hunter led the Vikings to their first ever Nike Cross Nationals Championship, with the program scoring a record low 89 points en route to a perfect season. Zaring, meanwhile, pushed the Indians to a fourth-place outing at NXN, the squad's highest finish, as well as numerous accolades across the season, including a Class 6A championship in Texas.
The Keller cross country program is on the rise and has been for some time now. In fact, the girls team has been a national prominent team for the last two years.
The accomplishments have been accumulating all season long for the team. Now that the season is over, the accomplishments continue to add up. This time, the award goes to the coach. Today, coach Brian Zaring has been named the Girls Cross Country coach of the year by the USTFCCCA.
To Read USTFCCCA announcement click: HERE
Keller has won the Texas UIL 6A state cross country championship for the last two seasons and have a third place finish from the 2015 season.
"This group has just grown and developed and it has really special to watch them progress."
Brian Zaring, Keller Head Coach
This past Fall, the Keller Indians set out to finish this season on the podium, not only at the state meet, but also at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). The Indians accomplished what they wanted to do. At NXN, they finished fourth among the best cross country teams in the nation.
Hard work and dedication are big factors that lead to the team's accomplishments. However, one of the biggest pieces to any team is the coach. Zaring, affectionately known by his athletes as "Coach Z" has been the leader and orchestrator of the program for a long time.
At Keller, Zaring has been able to cultivate a program with a culture of friendship, hard work, and fun. Over the last couple of years, Keller has been a goal oriented team. Zaring said, "We talk everyday about staying focused, determined, and knowing what our goals are every day before every practice. We knew that the goal we had coming into this season was the same as the goal we had going into last season."
This season, Keller went undefeated through the regular season. In championship season, they won the Texas UIL 6A state meet by 49 points and continued their winning streak until their second place finish at the NXR South and fourth place NXN finishes.
Zaring has been coaching for 22 years and the last seven as the Keller head XC coach. In those years, he has focused developing his athletes of every level. "To me, coaching is all about seeing the progress kids make from day one to the end of the season, no matter who they are. This group has just grown and developed and it has really special to watch them progress."
Coach Marc Hunter (on right)
The Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year award was won by Marc Hunter of Loudoun Valley (Va.). Hunter guided his Loudon Valley group to a year of record breaking running.
Led by Hunter's development, the team was able to average sub 16:00 for the entire top seven runners. Louodoun Valley dominated the Virginia High School League Class 4A State Championships by scoring the lowest possible score of 15 points.
That trend continued to the national level meets when they not only won NXN, but they did it with the lowest point total of NXN history with 89 total points.
"You gotta sacrifice and they are more than willing to do it."
Coach Marc Hunter - Loudoun Valley
Hunter's Loudoun Valley program has a family feel to it both literally and figuratively. The program is a tight group and assistant coach Joan Hunter and top seven runner Jacob Hunter are also wife and son to coach Hunter. Then there is also Loudoun Valley alum Drew Hunter who went pro after finishing high school in 2016.
Hunter is also big on developing his athletes as he takes pride in two runners who improved over two minutes in the 5K from freshman year. "Its about these kids working really hard and doing everything right", Hunter said. "I told them, this is not going to be easy at all, you have to remain focused and you have to give something up you gotta sacrifice and they are more than willing to do it."
Coach Hunter has only been at Loudoun Valley for three years and coaches age groups from youth to 35 year olds and he says, "My most enjoyable group to coach is high school."