This year’s cross-country season will see new coaches for both the boys and girls teams at Troy Buchanan – Riley Fader for the girls, and Zach McKinley for the boys.
McKinley just graduated from Lindenwood University this past May, with a degree in sports management, and was a runner there as well.
“I’m a runner myself, so the passion for cross-country and track and running and everything about that, that’s there,” McKinley said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for the past 10 years of my life…it runs in my blood, you could say.”
His experiences running in high school and college and the influences of his coaches have helped him grow, and McKinley said he’s excited for the chance to provide the same for the Troy Buchanan athletes.
“To help them grow and find passion like I do, and really enjoy doing what they are doing, because it’s so simple to just go out and run,” McKinley said.
Both teams were knee-deep in the summer cross-country camp last week, with students getting in workouts, playing games to build camaraderie and running, of course.
“Kind of just trying to let them have some fun while also getting the work in,” McKinley said. “But on top of that, we are meeting every Tuesday [and] Thursday at 7 a.m. for summer runs. It’s not mandatory, it’s just if they want to get some work in over the summer they can show up, and from that we have a good, solid group of kids that are showing up and putting the time in.”
The camp has been exciting for the two new coaches, McKinley said, and has shown the room for improvement that exists for the athletes.
The hope is to take off strong once the season starts, constantly improve and make Troy a cross-country “powerhouse.”
On the boys side, rising sophomore Brody Orf is standing out; Orf went to state last year as a freshman, which McKinley said speaks volumes to his potential.
“In my experience, not many people can make it to state their freshman year for cross-country,” McKinley said.
“He’s handling himself well, he’s got a lot of maturity as a sophomore, which is pretty cool to see,” he added. “We’ve got some seniors that I’m hoping [will] lead the team, but as of right now we’re just trying to build a good basis of mileage and stuff, and then as soon as the season starts we’re going to start hammering them and see what they’ve all got.”
The team doesn’t hold tryouts, so the door is open to any students who want in.
One of the biggest things about cross-country is that all a student needs to do is put in the time, McKinley said.
“You can become a great runner just by running,” he said.
“You don’t have to have the best gear, the best equipment and the best facilities around you – you’ve just got to make the best of what you have, and for running, if you’ve got a pair of shoes and a watch, you get outside, you’ve got a treadmill, you’re good.”