By Rob Kiser
Ryan King and Kyle Brumbaugh took over as Piqua cross country coaches a year ago looking to build the program.
And that process continues as the coaches prepare for their second season.
“Last year was our first year,” Bowman said. “We noticed some things this summer. We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘that wasn’t something that was happening last year’. We are learning all the time.”
The work for the upcoming season started early in June.
“We started conditioning on June 5,” Bowman said. “It is like any other sport. You can’t wait until practice starts to start working or you will be way behind.
“We had about 40 practices. We tried to find a different place every day for the kids to run. And we ran in the Piqua Optimist 5K run. They let our cross country runners run for free. That is great. Most of them had PRs in that race. They were all excited about that.”
King and Bowman decided to do something to reward the kids effort.
“We wanted to do something for the kids, so if they came to at least 20 of the practices, normally we give them a shirt. Ryan (King) said, ‘let’s do something different this time’. So, we are taking them to a Dayton Dragons game.
Piqua lost state qualifier Andy Mayse — along with two other boys and seven girls to graduation — and all were leaders.
“So, we are a going to be a young team,” Bowman said. “We don’t have the numbers from the incoming freshman class to fill the holes yet. But, the kids are working hard and the leadership will come.”
There are two different events to highlight the season this year.
The Piqua Invitational has been moved from Willowbrook to Piqua Country Club, with a different format.
That stemmed from Bowman’s love of running on golf courses in college meets.
“Last year, with it being our first year, we didn’t feel like we had the time to put into the Piqua Invitational at Willowbrook and make it bigger,” Bowman said. “So, this year, we are having an invitational at Piqua Country Club on September 13. I always enjoyed running on golf courses in college. I approached Piqua Country Club not knowing how they were going to react and they were excited about it and really great to work with.
“What I learned later from talking to runners from back in the 60s and 70s is that is where they used to run. So, that is kind of cool.”
Bowman hopes it will be a mutual success.
“We want to make it a successful night for the cross country program, but we also want it to be a successful for night for Piqua Country Club,” he said. “They are going to have a grill out there and they are going to get all the money from concessions. It is going to be two miles for the high school and one mile for junior high. We will probably do a fun run to try to get other kids from the community involved.”
As part of the Piqua-Sidney All-Sports competition, there will also be a dual meet with Sidney this year.
“We are going up there and we want to make it a fun event,” Bowman said. “Sidney feels the same way. We run so many 5Ks, we didn’t want to run another 5K. So, we are going to have a mile race for high school and half mile for junior high and we are going to run a 4×400 after that.”
Along with that, one of the things Bowman has been spending time on is researching the history of the program and trying to update the record book as much as possible.
He has also started a website at piquaxc.com and anyone that has information on those records can contact him there.
“What I have learned is that Piqua had a really strong cross country program in the 1960s and 1970s,” Bowman, who has a passion for the sport. “We would like to get back to that.”
It is a process — which Bowman and King have well underway as they enter their second season as coaches.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.