Q&A with Carroll Girls' Head Coach Phil Yoder

Carroll Chargers 2016 State Runner-up's

MileSplit IN: Last season Carroll was the state runner-up to Carmel. This year, Carmel is sort of in a rebuild, having lost 3 of their top runners. But Carroll isn't in a rebuild, you all look to be very strong this year, returning 5 of the 7 from the state meet last year. With that in mind, how do you feel the team's chances are of scoring higher and possibly ending Carmel's?

Phil: Our goal is to get better every year and this year is no different.  We have a great group of returning runners that want to continue to improve. I am really excited about this year's team and I believe that we put in a great summer.  Carmel has set the bar so high and everyone has been trying to catch up to them.  I know that they lost some of their top runners, but you can never expect them to have a down year.  Our plan is to run our best races at the end of the year and see what happens. 

MileSplit IN: Abby Green, second place last year at state. Everyone's going to be watching her a little closer now after that performance. As her coach did you see a performance that impressive to come from her in just her sophomore season? Do you think she can top that this year?

Phil: Abby's big progression last year was somewhat surprising, but not completely unexpected.  She was fairly new to running her freshman year and her work ethic is outstanding. She put in a great summer and is hungry for a great XC season.  She had a little nagging calf injury during track, so she is excited to be healthy again.  Indiana has several great individual girls that will be competing for the state title, but I know that Abby will put it all on the line.  Knowing Abby, her main goal will be to get her team a low stick. 

MileSplit IN: I remember back in May and in February there was a lot of talk about one of your freshman, Zoe Duffus. Now we've only seen her power in 3K's and the mile, but you've seen her working this summer, what are your thoughts on her? Will she possibly be a varsity runner this year?

Phil:  Zoe is certainly a very talented runner and we are excited to have her in the Carroll program. High school running is a lot different than middle school, but I expect her to make the transition without a lot of issues. She came in this summer and embraced our training program and the team.  She is also in a great position of being able to train with some of the top girls in the state.  Based on her workouts and her work ethic, we look for her to be a big varsity contributor this year.     

MileSplit IN: Carroll doesn't face the big competition teams all that often, except for the Marion Invite and the Trinity invite, do you think that effects the team's mentality at all going into the tournament? Or does it affect any strategies you guys have in place?

Phil: We try to focus on what we can control and how we prepare for each race. We try to use each meet as a way to improve our team regardless of the competition.  While we may not face the traditional powerhouses every week, we do run against great competition (especially on the individual level). Our philosophy is "Last race, best race" so we look to run our athletes to run their best race at the end of their season whether it is the New Haven Classic or the State Meet. This means that we are training through the early season meets regardless of who we are facing that week.

MileSplit IN: What does a normal week during the season look like for you guys, in terms of mileage/workouts?

Phil: We like to keep things simple and consistent on a week to week basis, so our athletes know what to expect each day.  We workout hard on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays if we don't have a meet.  Tuesday are our long interval days and we have tempo runs on Thursday.  We view each year as a progression so our freshmen run about 35 miles per week and we increase it each year with our seniors running about 50 miles per week.  In addition, the runners take a day off (typically Sunday) every 2 weeks.

MileSplit IN: You've been at Carroll for 4 years now, what is the biggest change you have seen since your start?

Phil: I think the biggest change over the past 4 years has been the level of competition across the whole state.  The depth of talent in Indiana seems to increase each year.  This includes the athletes and the coaches.  I am excited to be a part of Indiana high school cross country and track.  

MileSplit IN: Now that you don't have to focus on coaching both the boys and the girls programs, you're only the head coach for the girls, will anything you had previously been doing with the girls change or will it all mostly stay consistent?

Phil: Nothing much will really change.  Each year we try to find a couple small things to change, but the overall philosophy will remain intact.  Coach Brooks and I are still heavily invested in both programs at Carroll.  We still run a combined program, but the coaching change just allows us to focus a little more on each team individually.  Anyone that has been around our program over the last few years could tell you that Coach Brooks and I were more Co-Head Coaches than anything. 

 MileSplit IN: Is there anything else you would like to say about any of your girls or this season?

Phil:  I am excited for the season to start and I want to wish everyone good luck!