Corbin Talley, Davis UT XC: NSAF Coach of the Week

For week ending Sept. 14, 2013


The great U.S. prep cross-country programs, year in and year out, usually don’t have to rebuild – they just reload.  Davis (Kaysville, Utah) head coach Corbin Talley knows this, but even he’s been surprised this fall by what his young squads have done so far this fall. 

The latest success came at the BYU Autumn Classic last weekend, where Coach Talley’s SE#4/US#22 girls ( pre-season ranking) put five in the top nine to score 26 points in a 24-team field, winning by more than 100.  Meanwhile, his SW#5/US#65 boys netted 85 markers to outrun Lone Peak (103) and 25 other schools.  However, that meet was a tuneup relative to what they’ll face this weekend at the prestigious Firman Invitational in Idaho. 

But Coach Talley has found his team’s to look much more ready to face a challenge like that than he originally anticipated.  His boys had graduated 10 of their top 12 (returning only #4 and #7) from the 2012 5A state and NXN Southwest runner-ups, while his girls saw depart five of their top seven from the 5A state champs (they also won NXN SW) – losing 1-2 punch Shea Martinez and Ellie Childs.  But a whole load of youngsters have stepped up in a program that has outstanding depth.  At the BYU meet, they were just a point away from sweeping all six races (boys and girls varsity, JV and frosh/soph races).

Davis under Coach Talley (at right, with assistant coach Brad Anderson) has had a long run of success.  Since he took on the girls’ program in 2003, the “Darts” have won five state XC titles and had NXN Finals finishes of 9th (2007) and 12th (2012).  Talley has also coached the track program to six state titles and a smoking triumph in the New Balance Nationals Indoor 4x800 last March in a nation-leading 8:56.57 – anchored by the 2:08 800 talent Martinez

His boys – since Talley took the reigns there in 2007 – captured the title that fall and have four runner-up finishes since to powerful state rival American Fork.  They’ve made three trips to Portland, taking 3rd in 2011, 11th in 2010 and 13th last fall.  That 2011 team was headed by Brad Nye, who would go on to win the NBNI, Simplot and Arcadia miles and run 4:04.46 in the adidas Dream Mile.  Talley has also coached five state champion boys’ track and field teams.

A few of Coach Talley’s thoughts:

On what he thought about his team's summer training, how much of his team was returnees vs. newcomers and what kind of potential he thought there was for state, regional and national honors:  The summer went better than I expected.  We had a goal for the boys to hit 500 miles and the girls 400 miles in a 12-week period.  We had 24 boys over 500 (11 over 600), and 22 girls over 400 (8 over 500).  We have a team camp each year in the Uintas (chain of mountains in northeastern Utah) at about 9,500 feet the first week of August.  It really helps us build unity and focus going into the season.

We really didn't have much experience returning this year ... We knew we had some good young kids coming up, but they have far exceeded our expectations.  It amazes me how much they have stepped up to try to keep our tradition going.  They may lack experience in big races, but they make up for it in excitement, heart and fearlessness.  They are so fun to be around because they just want to push hard, learn from their mistakes and become the best team they can be.

It has also helped to have a few new runners on the team already filling varsity spots.  Our #1 on the girls' side at BYU was a freshman, Aubrey Argyle.  She pushes the senior girls working to keep up with her, but she has also added this fresh, excited, sometimes silly personality that keeps us laughing and makes it so fun to train and race together.  She has been just what we needed, in addition to some great seniors who have stepped into the leadership roles. Honestly, so many kids have stepped up as difference-makers for us this season, it is hard to point each of them out.

(Vic Sailer, photos at right of Davis alums winning NBNI titles as seniors: Brad Nye in the 2012 mile and Shea Martinez anchoring the 4x8 in 2013)

On how the BYU Autumn Classic went in terms of what they wanted to achieve:  It was a good measure for us going into Bob Firman.  The girls raced very well for this early in the season.  Our goal was to put 5 girls in the top 10, and we did just that.  I was very pleased with how we closed out the race.  When it got tough, they all dug deep and raced for each other. It made all of the pain worth it.

The varsity boys continued to show progress. We are trying so hard to stay patient and focused on the later races, so this was just another step for us in the right direction.  We are not 100 percent; one boy in our top three is dealing with some asthma/injury issues, so we feel that when we have him back, we are going to be even stronger.  It was also fun to do so well in the freshman/sophomore and JV races.  Our younger runners are catching the vision and are really excited about the future of the program.

We hope to race well at Firman, because the competition is always incredible.   Then we are going to come home and put in two weeks of killer training to get us ready for Region and State. Our boys are going to be a bit short-handed this week (with one injury and two seniors taking the ACT), so we are really hoping to see some of the other varsity runners continue to step up.

On the ultimate goals for both teams this fall:  We are looking forward to State and Nike Regionals.  At State, we are hoping to bring home trophies for both the boys and the girls (top two teams).  At NXN Southwest, we are hoping to be in a position to qualify both teams again.  It was a lot of fun last year with the boys and the girls, and it would be a dream to go back with a crop of new kids.  NXN SW is so strong again this year, and it will definitely be a challenge.

One of the reasons that we are so fired up about how this season has started is because we felt it would be much more of a re-building year. Three months ago we weren't thinking about taking state or qualifying for NXN, we were just focused on getting our young runners experience and putting together a solid team.  By the end of the summer, we started to see a lot more potential.  I think that came from each athlete committing fully to what we are doing.  Right now we are just taking it one week at a time.

On the state of Utah prep distance running:  I think it is on fire right now, and it is so fun to be a part of it.  Over the past five years the level of competitiveness in Utah has really increased.  I think it has been great for our program to try to help set that tone and raise that level.  Our boys’ competitiveness with American Fork over the past four years has been great for us (even though we have only beaten them in cross country once over that stretch).  It motivates us and pushes us to be our best.

We really take pride in representing Utah distance running, and we are seeing so many good teams and individuals pop up throughout the state because of the current excitement.  I was running at Bingham High School in the mid-1990s, and I felt like we hit a running boom in Utah at the time.  What we are seeing now is taking it to the next level.

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