The Greyhounds were last year's state runner-up, they look prepared to take back #1
MileSplit IN: 6 of the top 7 guys from last year are back this year. Do you believe that will be the key to Carmel reclaiming the state title this year? Having a strong core of guys already.
Colin Altevogt: I think experience does matter, and obviously older athletes do better at the state meet. This is an unusually seasoned team as well. Four of our guys have run in at least two state cross country finals. There is also a cumulative effect to training, which is why some of our guys and Columbus North guys in the past have had big jumps as seniors. We're hopeful that will apply to some of our guys this season.
MileSplit IN: This season for the 'Hounds is loaded with senior talent. How much do you believe their leadership will impact the team as a whole?
Colin Altevogt: We have four seniors with state meet experience. They will be the biggest reason for our success from a team perspective.
MileSplit IN: You've been coaching now for 11 years and over half of those have been at Carmel. What has been the biggest change you have noticed in all your years? Which season would you call your favorite so far?
Colin Altevogt: The numbers of the program at Carmel have grown pretty steadily from 96 to 160 over the last four years, but the biggest increase has been the interest in our offseason practices and a general desire from our guys to train at a high level. Even with vacations and everything that goes into the summer, we didn't have a single day in June or July with less than a hundred at our offseason practices. Five years ago, we honestly would have had less than thirty every day.
Every year is different and comes with unique challenges and opportunities. I was really fortunate to go to college close to Columbus North and be a part of the coaching staff there for three years, including 2009 when we won the state championship for the boys and girls. I was also really lucky to land a teaching job in Carmel and get a great opportunity to implement a vision in training and team culture. Picking a favorite season would be nearly impossible, but if I had to pick a favorite individual meet it would probably be the past state finals in track where we had guys qualify in each distance event and won the 4x8. Maybe that's just recency bias, though.
MileSplit IN: Carmel is always the team people shall I say fear to compete against because they typically know they won't win. Most teams in Indiana only have maybe a year or two where they are really good, then drop down. How do you keep that winning spirit going for so long, even though you've only been head coach for going on 3 years now? What do you think keeps the Greyhounds so strong each and every year?
Colin Altevogt: The great support we get from our parents and administration is of the utmost importance. Our coaching staff has everything we need to build and maintain a program and give our athletes the best athletic experience possible. It'd be misleading if not dishonest to neglect to mention that we have the largest enrollment in the state. That helps immensely.
Carmel has always been strong in distance running, but we may be on a pretty special run right now. We've finished in the top two at the state meet in cross country and track and field for eight consecutive seasons. I feel like we're in the midst of a string of some exceptional guys starting with Bobby Browning and Ben Anderson about five years ago, continuing with Ben Veatch and Teddy Browning a couple years ago and still going today with our current team.
MileSplit IN: Following up on that previous question. It almost seems people expect Carmel to come to a meet and automatically be considered the winners or the top team. What do your guys do to achieve that expectation?
Colin Altevogt: We talk to our guys about doing the best they can at meets. I would imagine most other coaches are doing the same and don't spend too much time talking about us in their locker rooms. Our guys want to be the best they can for each other, but we don't feel like we need to live up to anyone else's expectations.
MileSplit IN: What does a typical training week look like?
Colin Altevogt: In the summer and through August: Long run Monday, sometimes longer intervals with short standing rest on Tuesday, a "long PPM" or longer hard run on Thursday (building up over the summer) and running twice on Saturdays for those who have earned the progression through previous training. When school starts, we sometimes flip the long PPM to Saturday mornings and run twice on Thursday to try and catch some better weather (or avoid the danger of running hard when it's over ninety and humid).
In the regular season: "High set of continuous intervals" or 400s on Monday, "low set of continuous intervals" which are usually four less than the high set on Thursday.
At some point in late September and early October, we will go back to a couple of base weeks to touch back on our strength with our long runs and long PPMs.
MileSplit IN: Do you have any predictions going into this season? As far as team and even individuals go.
Colin Altevogt: This will be the deepest season of the 5k era for boys cross country in Indiana in regards to individuals. The depth behind an historically good individual is unmatched in the last four decades.
MileSplit IN: Anything else you would like the Indiana community to know about the Greyhounds?
Colin Altevogt: A roster of 160 guys is more manageable than people might think. Also, my dog's name is Paavo.