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RE: What F-M coach Bill Aris knows that no one else knows...
I think you can do a lot with a strong goal oriented system, and a culture of self motivation.

My dad coaches Shawnee Mission Northwest, which had 14 consecutive state titles. I was a part of two of those teams. And a big part of our success year after year was knowing what we had to do collectively, and how to do it. Namely, we knew from history and past experience that if you could field five runners capable of running sub 17:00, you would be very difficult to beat at the state meet.

I think this gave us something of an edge, because I don't think many think of Cross as an event driven by time, so much as it is by place and team score. Track is where you worry about splits; cross you survive and try to pick off as many people.

Our team did not focus so much on place as we did on running the splits we needed in workouts, and focusing on those times in the races all year until by state we knew that the pieces were in place, and it was a matter of replicating what we had done previously.

The other crucial variable was self motivation. The coach is crucial of course, but cannot be there on every training run with every athlete. So there is a good deal of self-supervision going on. And when I entered varsity for the first time, there was that culture in place, that history. The seniors on the team told me and the other newbies, "Okay, here's what we're doing, you guys are going to stick with us." The older runners let the younger people knew what was at stake, and made us feel a part of something important.

I imagine FM has this same culture. I think they have this same strategy. Because there is nothing strange in the water there where they run. It's not like they field five phenoms year after year. They are really, really, really good at forming a team that knows exactly what it must do to achieve their goal, and they go out and do it. It's a surprisingly difficult thing to do, and something not many teams can do.

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