Herriman Cross Country team gains national attentionOct 01, 2022 06:46PM ● By Justin Adams
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
It goes without saying that the effects of COVID-19 have been almost entirely negative, but for the Herriman Cross Country program, there’s a silver lining.
Back in 2020, Doug Soles was the head coach for the Great Oak High School track and field and cross country teams in Temecula, California. Over the course of 17 years, he had built a dynasty there, winning 14 state championships and one national championship in 2015. But amid the frustration of COVID lockdowns and canceled sports seasons, Soles and his family decided to move to Utah. (It also helped that Soles’ wife has a lot of family in Utah.)
After getting settled last year, Soles began looking for his next coaching opportunity. He heard that the job at Herriman was opening up this year, so he went to go meet with Principal Todd Quarnberg. The two discussed their vision for the future of the Herriman track and cross-country programs, and unsurprisingly, Soles landed the job.
Luckily for Soles, he was by no means taking over a program with empty cupboards.
“Coach Hague did a really good job managing the program. Got out a lot of really good kids. Left me in a position where I could just come in and build off of it,” Soles said.
While the talent was certainly there, Soles said his primary focus after taking the reins was to instill a different culture and mindset.
“I told them I think they have the potential to be a top five national team but to get to that level, they have to be there in the summer, they have to make sacrifices, they have to push themselves,” he said.
That summer training is no joke. The team has morning practice six days a week.
“It’s a full-time commitment for the kids,” Soles said. “The boys put in a killer summer and they’re seeing the rewards of that.”
And boy are they seeing the rewards. The team took 16 boys and 12 girls to California to compete in the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, the largest high school cross meet in the country. The boys team took first place overall, with two runners finishing in the top ten and four runners finishing in the top 30 (out of 280 total runners).
Those top four finishers were Noah Jenkins, William Horne, Ryland Garner, and Luke Briggs, all of them seniors.
The girls team also performed very well, finishing in 20th place out of 400 teams.
Maybe most impressive of all though, was what the team did when they returned to Utah. Not content to rest on the laurels and celebrate their accomplishment, Soles said they went out for a 12-mile run the day they got back.
“They’re just focused on their next goals,” Soles said, “Winning the 6A title and qualifying for the Nike Cross Nationals.”
The state meet is scheduled to take place on Oct. 25 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City.