Hillsboro cross-country team has a new coach on the starting line.
Kody Panzer, Hillsboro chiropractor, is in her first year coaching but she’s been competing in races 10 years. Her experience helps her relate to the runners.
This year’s team consists of five middle school runners and seven high school members.
“I think some of the runners have a good chance of getting to state competition,” Panzer said.
Last year’s state qualifier Tristan Reed, returns this year with hopes of returning to state.
Panzer has been focusing on nutrition and hydration to help members’ performance.
Practices are once a day and Panzer said they are pushing it hard in the heat but not enough to cause any heat related injuries.
Because she is not a teacher or staff member, she qualifies as a Rule 10 coach which means she’s to be supervised by a teacher.
“Because of my education and experience, I was approved for a non-supervised position,” Panzer said.
She said the team is small in number but all are working hard to be better for themselves and the team.
Members got together a few times over the summer to run and lift weights.
“The kids know they are getting better even though, at times, it’s a little exhausting,” Panzer said. “Team leaders are showing their determination and working hard to help their teammates.”
Panzer follows a strict training program with the students. They start with a warm-up lap, then stretches and biometrics before starting the workout of the day.
“We finish with a cool down lap, ab exercises, ankle strengthening drills and stretching,” she said.
Cross-country is both an individual and team sport. The higher the competitor places, the loweer points for the team —which is backward from most high school sports.
“The team with the lowest score wins,” Panzer said.
A chiropractor in Hillsboro, Panzer continues to compete herself in distance races where she started at 3.1 miles and is now up to 100 mile races.
“I am running in Ottawa next March and I’m going to bring a few of the kids along to help them pace me so they can see what it takes to run 100 miles,” she said.
“I’m 37 years old and I’ll never stop competing,” she said.