West Salem (OR) Summer Practice
West Salem (OR) invited us to their summer practice. Oregon had a moratorium week that ended the previous Saturday and the Titans of West Salem were back in action to prepare for the cross country season with repeat 1000's. Their first meet in later in August at Wilsonville's Night Meet. Coach Dalton Lindsey met us and explained how the team was doing in the summer. We also talked to athletes Brady Bliven and Jack Meier.
How often do you practice in the summer?
We practice Monday through Friday. Then they have two days a week where they come back for weight sessions. They have their own workouts Saturday or Sundays. So they run six or seven days a week.
What are some fun summer activities?
We spend a lot of time together and the time we have here is fun. We went bowling a couple of weeks ago for the night. Actually after today we have Kona Ice is coming to hang out after the practice. We do those small fun things to be around each other as much as possible during that practice time.
How do you build your culture here at West Salem?
I am going on my fourth year as head coach. I have been here for six years since I was twenty years old. I am still pretty young in the coaching world. We found a few of those people who want have a sniff of success. They have the 'Why not us?' kind of mentality. We see the success that the Portland schools have and the Eugene schools have and we are in this pack in between them. We want to be a part of that and go to those meets and races and be competitive. Our kids understand that we can show up and that their effort does determine their success. If they want to be successful, then they know that showing up and putting the work will make that happen.
We have a crew that wants to make history. We have not had a Salem-Keizer school place in the top five in the 6A (large division) at State in 46 years. That is a long time. It is not as if this city does not have the capability of doing it. It is finding the right crew and finding the right attitude. I think our team is starting to realize that they have all the talent and potential to go to some of these bigger meets and compete and like say, 'Wow, we are West Salem!' I think that the biggest thing that motivates our kids is other team's kids will ask if we are 4A or 5A school. I tell the kids that nobody knows who we are until you go and show them that we are a force that can be reckoned with. They have brought in that mentality of 'Why not us?'
What is the secret to West Salem's success?
I am here all of the time which gives them an opportunity be together and practice. That has been huge. I am here five or six days a week and then they come back for weights. We are giving them an opportunity to get better as a runner, post run work and in the weight room. I really believe in building those connections early. I am backwards in recruiting. I work in the middle school so with my seniors now it is my sixth or seventh year coaching them. This sounds crazy, but for a third of their life I have been coaching them. You start to build those connections with them and their families and watch them grow. It is fun to see that. You see some success and you show them that love of what they can do outside of athletics.
We asked senior Brady Bliven and junior Jack Meier about the West Salem program.
What do you like being a West Salem Titan Cross Country Athlete?
Brady: I think our coach is the biggest part. He makes it fun every single time at every single practice. Super great team environment and we have nine or ten guys competing for varsity.
Jack: Yes, the team is a lot of fun and we have great coaches. Everyone is super committed from top to bottom, whether you are on varsity or JV. It is super fun to be a part of it.
What are your goals and plans for the fall?
Brady: Our team, for sure, wants to win the conference meet. We are hoping to get a top four placing at State.
Jack: We are a really senior heavy team right now. It would be good to bring home a trophy since a Salem school has not done that since like . . . for a long time.
Are there any fun things you are looking forward to this fall with the team?
Brady: I look forward to going to Idaho for NXR and get to stay there a couple of nights and compete at regionals.
Jack: Yeah, we won the open division last year. We are going to try to be in the more competitive division next time. We also do a mud run. I think the second meet of the year. It is more of a fun run to start the season.
Brady: We just run as a team for that. We stay together.
Check out West Salem's photo gallery of their workout HERE