Cross Country: New Coach, New Team

By Rogelio Castillo Jr.

October 23, 2023

Cross Country is known to be a sport that doesn’t appeal to many. Running in itself causes injuries such as shin splints, a sharp pain in between the bone and muscle of your lower leg. Even with the possibility and inevitability of injury, about 40 people (including me) go to practice after school every day to enjoy going out on a run.

Jennifer Frere took over the Cross Country program, taking the position of former head coach Chuck Ogle in the summer. Tyler Hoyt, the athletic director, decided to announce it while we were on a run. After going back to the high school, Ogle gave me a handshake, said a few words, then left. The next day, Frere greeted us and a new chapter was turned.

This season there are five coaches: Frere as the head coach, along with Jackie Wilson, Makenna & Malie Dougherty, and Adam Massini as assistant coaches. There were only two coaches last year, which included Ogle and Wilson. There is good reasoning behind this. “I think that we all bring something different to the table,” Frere tells me. It just provides more flexibility, since not all of them are needed every day. “We have about 40 athletes on the roster so it's really important to have a lot of people who can help in various ways.” For example: having coaches be at the top and bottom of a hill.

 Boys Varsity during their warm up during the Clovis Invitational. (Photo credit: Adam Massini)

Group photo of Girls Varsity during the Clovis Invitational. (Photo credit: Adam Massini)

Frere is a biology and anatomy teacher here at the high school. Once she got notice of being head coach, she said, “It was a pleasant surprise, it was probably a change that I didn’t know I needed and that I wanted.” Coaching has also been different under Frere, compared to Ogle. Wilson said “Frere and I come from the same background and the same coaching history. Like we were coached by the same person to start off our careers. And so it's a lot easier [to coach].” Both Frere and Wilson have ran together on the same team throughout their high school career. 

Moving on to what the team has been doing lately, September 9th was the Saturday of our home meet, “Morro Bay Invitational”. This year the courses are 2.56 miles for Varsity and JV, and 1.54 miles for Novice runners. All the coaches, volunteers, and part of our team is why the meet ran so smoothly.

Since then there have been many more meets. Ojai Invitational at Lake Casitas, Brug Invitational in Santa Margarita Lake, Mid-Season Duals in Santa Maria, the Asics Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno, Dos Pueblos Invitational in Goleta for our JV team. After that the SLO County Meet at the Laguna Golf Course, then League Finals in the Elks Rodeo Grounds. November 4th  

The team will also be the host of the Oktoberfest 4 mile race in Baywood. It is happening on October 29th, near the Nautical Bean on 2nd Street. When Frere and Wilson were in high school, they hosted this race as a fundraiser for the program. “...that was a normal every year thing, and we would go around and collect gift cards and prizes for the race and we’re bringing it back to Morro Bay Cross Country which we’re super excited about,” Frere said. 

Cross Country this year is definitely a different one from the last. Frere has taken the position of head coach, and the assistant coaches have helped the program become what it is today. Although the season is coming to a close, feel free to show up to pre-season practice for Track & Field distance!