The last three Boys 6A cross country seasons have ended with The Woodlands head coach Juris Green's teams holding the state title.
That may not be the case this season. With six of The Woodlands' seven runners from the UIL State Championships having graduated, the 2018 team will contain a majority of runners without varsity experience. However, the chance to see his athletes develop into top runners has Green excited for the upcoming season.
MileSplit: What was the reaction from the team after winning the state title last season?
Juris Green: All state championships are special. Each one brings with it different challenges and therefore a unique fingerprint. This past XC season for us was emotionally very taxing. Not only was the hurricane a blow, even bigger for us was the passing of Tanner Noble. Winning, therefore, was honestly something I did not expect. Emotionally we were spent, but the guys really pulled together to slip past Southlake Carroll who were running so well.
MileSplit: What does it say about your team that The Woodlands boys team have won the 6A title three years in a row?
Green: Having won three XC titles in a row tells me we have been exceptionally lucky. I've heard luck defined as where preparation meets opportunity. If The Woodlands is anything we are prepared. Sometimes it swings our way but sometimes not. These past three years have been great for us, but what I like this year is there is only one returner, one guy with varsity experience. We have a young, hungry team- most likely all juniors and sophomores. I guarantee no one will have heard of who line up in our colors in 2018. The odds are stacked against us, and I love it.
MileSplit: What has been the biggest factor in your team's success the last three seasons?
Green: The combination of passion, dedication and that bloody-minded will to succeed has been our cornerstone. Each of those teams ran for a unique purpose. This year, as in the past, my team will have a purpose to rally around.
MileSplit: As a coach, how satisfying is it for you when your athletes perform well?
Green: The only reason I coach is to help my guys improve. I am not here to win championships. In actual fact those championships are simply a coincidence. Development is what I am after. I am equally as excited when a mid-tier freshman or JV guy runs a personal best as I am a varsity runner. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten emotional over a kid that runs under 12 minutes for 3200m for the first time, or their first sub-5 1600m because I see them everyday working hard then laying it on the line and pushing themselves faster than they ever have- it gives me chills.
MileSplit: What message do you instill in your team in the hope of trying to avoid complacency, to keep that competitive spirit despite the three straight titles?
Green: This is a tricky aspect of being in a situation like we are now. Southlake Carroll knows what I mean, Kingwood knows what I mean, Luling knows what I mean. Trying to convince a group that has never seen us lose at the highest level is hard to do.
The situation we are in this year with returning only one runner from last year is not only creating that sense of urgency but a lot of confidence with a group who will have no varsity experience. To be honest, this group has not accomplished anything. They lay no claim to any trophy in our trophy case. I am looking forward to the challenge of instilling that new culture and hunger in our team that will take us another 3-4 years.
MileSplit: What have you, if anything, done with your team over the summer training wise? Have any of your athletes competed in international tournaments?
Green: Our approach to this season is the same as any other. We meet all summer basically and through a regimented week of runs, tempo runs, long runs, swimming or biking get ourselves set for the season. No one competes in the summer, or attends any other camps- we stay together.
MileSplit: What are your expectations for 2018?
Green: Have fun, set lofty goals, do everything we can to accomplish those goals. The 2018 season will be as exciting as ever. Many great teams out there with talented individuals will be tearing it up I am sure. I am excited to see how The Woodlands will contribute to the Texas HS running scene this fall- we just may surprise a few people this year.