DeKalb County is still relatively new, when it comes to their Cross Country program. Only competing in its sixth season, the program is young, with several freshmen and sophomores dotting the 2021 roster. Youth, however, is not stopping potential for the program, and Coach Paris Rabidoux believes the future, both immediate and long-term, are exceptionally bright.
Coach Rabidoux joined UC Sports Nation via email for a Q&A session to discuss the outlook for the remainder of this season, and the bright future for the program.
UCSN: What does the remainder of your season schedule look like?
CR: The regular season will run through the end of October. We have three more regular season meets. Regionals will be held on October 26, and hopefully, we will have some State-bound qualifying runners. States are usually held the first week of November.
UCSN: How many runners are currently on the team?
CR: We currently have 18 runners on our team.
UCSN: Is this a veteran team, a young team, or a nice blend of both?
CR: The running program at DeKalb Co. is fairly young, as a whole; it’s only been around for about six seasons. Right now, we have a very young team. Most of our team are freshman and sophomores, with a few juniors and one senior. We are still building the program within the community, but we have the potential to do well. We just have to keep the interest among the kids and community.
UCSN: In what Region does DeKalb Co. compete, and do you have runners that are ranked in the Region?
CR: We compete in Region 4, A/AA. Our top boy, Aaron Gottlied, is currently ranked 11th in our region, while our top girl, Ella VanVranken is ranked 3rd.
UCSN: What are the strengths of the team, and what are some areas you would like to see improvement?
CR: The biggest strength of the team is the amount of raw talent. We have so much potential. These kids could be great, as individual runners and as a team. However, the biggest struggle is getting the kids and the community excited about running, and thinking big picture. I believe we have some D1 and D2 college talent. But in an area where basketball and football are king and queen, it’s a challenge getting more kids interested to participate.
UCSN: How far do you feel DeKalb County, as a team, can advance in the postseason?
CR: I believe we will send some runners to State.
UCSN: Do you have individual runners that have the ability to go far in the postseason?
CR: Aaron Gottlied and Ian Colwell, for our boys, will run well. Honestly, our boys team could be really good, it’s just a matter of showing up on race day. I believe Aaron can go back to State for the third year. For our girls, Ella VanVranken should go to State. Last year, as a freshman, she had been ranked, but unfortunately, due to COVID third-party exposure, she wasn’t able to compete at Regionals, which lost her the shot at State. That was a heartbreaker. She was ranked among the top 20 freshman in the state, and had a legitimate chance to place well at State. So we’ve been slowly getting her back to a competitive level, hoping this year, we won’t have any of those issues.
UCSN: In terms of practice/routine/habits/fitness, what are some things you emphasize to your runners?
CR: Running has some great parallels with life; I try to include that and make the connection when appropriate. It’s a grind. It’s hard. It’s not glamorous. You have to want it and have to be willing to suffer. That’s life, right? I care more about who these kids turn into as humans than I do about the running and race finishes. But, if we can get some top finishes in races, send some kids to State, and hopefully get some scholarships along the way, then I will be super happy and grateful to have been able to be a part of it.
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