Scouting Report: Carmel Boys

Scouting Report interview with Carmel boys head cross country coach Colin Altevogt. After winning the state title and Nike Cross Nationals berth in 2015, the Carmel boys cross country team had to settle for a runner-up finish last fall behind Fort Wayne Carroll.

The good news is they only graduated one runner from that second place squad and appear to be one of the top preseason favorites to compete for the 2017 Indiana state cross country title as well as a contender to qualify out of the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional. Since 2012, Carmel has finished no worse than second in the state meet winning numerous titles over that span. 

Top 7 Returnees (Full State Team Scores)

1Carmel High School (IN)84
1) Ben Miller15:22.003
2) Colin Murphy15:25.006
3) Calvin Bates15:47.1021
4) Keelan Grant15:49.0022
5) William J. Harris15:53.1032
Average Time: 15:39.24 Total Time: 1:18:16.20 1-5 Split: 31.10
6) Thomas Gastineau15:56.4038
7) Trey Harris16:08.6962

Q&A with Coach Altevogt (Carmel Boys)

1.    How many years have you been coaching high school cross country (and at your current school)?

Ten years total, six years previously at Carmel so this will be my 11th cross country season overall. I'm 30 years old. 

2.     What do you attribute as the main reasons for the success of your program?

Desire from team members to be the best they can be and contribute to the team culture and legacy, incredible parent and administrative support, school culture that emphasizes excellence in all areas of education, high enrollment numbers. 

3.     What would be the best way to describe your style and philosophy of coaching and working with high school runners?

Our coaching staff emphasizes positive attitude, detailed training, strong work ethic and supportive teamwork. Running a fast 5k is cool, but what is much more important is that our runners learn to challenge themselves to improve and be supportive of each other. The relationships that the athletes form with each other will be paramount. Our runners are competitive and want to do their best individually, but they are very encouraging to each other. We want to have an incredibly connected team even with our monstrous numbers (161 boys this season, up from 96 my first year as the head coach in 2014). 

4.     What are your core beliefs in your training plan and workouts for your cross country squads?

A cross country race is about maximizing oxygen-carrying capacity and maximizing ability to run through discomfort. Our threshold runs are longer and at a higher intensity than almost any high school team and our late-season intervals are done with a jog rest. 

5.     How many runners do you return from your top 7 from a year ago?


6.     Who is your projected top 7 heading into the cross country season?

Ben Miller - senior (third at Indiana state track finals over 3200 meters)

Colin Murphy - senior (eighth at Indiana state cross country finals)

Keelan Grant - senior (1600 meter state finalist)

Trey Harris - senior (Anchor of state championship 4x8 and 800 meter state finalist)

Calvin Bates - junior

Thomas Gastineau - junior

Ben Myers - sophomore 

7.     Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?

Ben Miller - care for his teammates and desire to help his teammates be their best

Colin Murphy - ability to overcome setbacks when younger

Keelan Grant - relentlessly positive attitude and improvement (ran 19:59 as a freshman and 15:55 as a junior)

Trey Harris - attention to detail 

8.     Who have you been most impressed or surprised with their improvement and/or fitness from their summer training?

Ben Myers, a sophomore, is highly improved from his freshman year and has shown an ability to stick with our top runners on his PPM or threshold runs.

Pat Campbell was consistent with his mileage and training through his sophomore year. The cumulative effect of that will be apparent in his races this year.

Our returning varsity runners continue to progress in their training and display a mature attitude toward training and a tough mindset in general.

We had a very successful track season with our distance runners, and that absolutely carried over into this summer. 

9.     Any impactful freshmen or transfers to join the team this season?

Freshmen Hudson Alden and James Gastineau could make the tournament roster (top 12) and could see varsity action as our regular season meets all allow us to run more than seven. With a senior-laden team in 2017, helping our freshmen and sophomores to develop and improve will be key for long-term success of our program. 

10. What are the top invitational meets that your team will be attending this season?

The Hamilton County meet in late August is often a good chance to compete against many of the state's best teams. There are years where three or even four of the top five preseason teams in the state are in our county, though this year looks to be a little more balanced state-wide at the top.

The Trinity Invitational in Kentucky is a great opportunity to see regional competition on a great course. We are lucky to be within driving distance of both LaVerne Gibson and Tom Sawyer Park, sites of the NCAA Division I championships.

11. What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?

Staying healthy is always a concern in any sport. We had some bad luck with key seniors in 2015, and I over-corrected with our cross-training and progression in 2016 as a response to that. We will make some training adjustments this season based on what we've learned. 

12. What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?

Leadership provided by our seniors, past key experiences, and most of all a connected group of athletes who work hard for each other.

13. What is a favorite annual or common pre-season workout or run for your team?

Long PPM: essentially a threshold run where our guys are encouraged to do "the best you can do" for an extended distance. Our top runners typically go between six and eight miles at close to 5:30 pace. We sometimes go back to this later in the season under ideal conditions to illustrate improvement. 

14. What is a favorite annual or common mid-season workout for your team?

"Split PPM": 3x2 miles on rolling terrain that simulates our state meet course, usually done on 15 minute "goes".

"The Bear": 5k-2 miles-1 mile on same rolling terrain with last mile in spikes, usually done with more standing rest between intervals than the split PPM. 

15. What is a favorite annual or common championship season or end-of-season workout for your team?

"High set of CIs": Short for continuous intervals, it is quarter-mile intervals with a jog rest at a prescribed pace. In the tournament season, we change to third-mile intervals at the same pace. Seniors who run an eight-mile PPM would do 16x400 with about three minutes between 400s (and six minutes after every fourth interval), and in the tournament they would do 12x533 meters with about three minutes between intervals (and six minutes after every third interval). Moving up the distance while keeping rest the same makes our guys tougher, but it takes a very good base to have the strength to complete that successfully. Our interval sessions tend to be high-volume, low-intensity.

16. What are your top 3 goals for this year's squad?

-Improve each runner on the team

-Care about and support each other

-Run our best team races on the LaVerne Gibson cross country course (site of Indiana state meet and Nike Midwest Regional)