Going the Extra Mile

The 2022 season has started for Aliso Niguel’s Girls Cross Country team and has brought new changes to the program. After almost 20 years of coaching the team, Coach Middlebrooke had decided to step down and has passed the baton over to teacher and coach Greg Collwel. Collwel was no stranger to coaching as he had previously been the coach for Aliso’s boys wrestling team as well as an assistant for Aliso’s freshman football team. 

Coach Collwel has implemented changes into the program already as he has changed the work out plans for the team, focusing more on improving the girls overall strength instead of focusing their energy on completing as many miles as possible. 

Colwell explained the change in the simplest of terms. “I’ve looked at what the other coaches have done but I have my own way of doing things.” 

Collwel has implemented weight training and pool workouts into practices as well shortening the overall amount of miles the girls are running. The team is running more hills and focusing on keeping a high endurance and muscle strength. 

Adjusting to a new coach is never easy but the Wolverines have not let the changes stop them as they continue to compete against the top schools of Orange County.

As the season has progressed the Wolverines have had the opportunity to compete against the schools of Orange County with 4 meets in the preseason so far. The team placed 7th at the Saddleback cup in September with Danna P Ibarra Canales placing top 25 with a 12:23 in the 2 mile run. 

Throughout the season Danna has been the front runner of this team, consistently being one of Aliso’s fastest runners for their last 4 meets. Danna had previously been coached under Coach Newkirk through her high school career however she and the rest of the team had great things to say about Colwell and the changes he had made. 

Running is not a natural activity that most people find themselves enjoying. Danna insists on certain mindsets that allow people to run at their full potential.

“Don’t be afraid of the pain…I always think about before a race how our bodies are so much stronger and capable of doing so much more than what’s in our minds”

Danna competed in the Dana Hills invitational in the Division 1 Senior Division running three miles in 18:39 mins. The rest of the seniors followed her finishing in the next 5 mins with Lauren Hellwell fishing at 21:51, Kaitlyn Pence at 21:55, and Hailey Arpawong at 22:15. 

The Aliso team has only 4 seniors graduating out of the program and although the team and staff are sad to see them go, the underclassmen that are new to the team show great potential for the program’s future.

“We have a bunch of talented runners, we have a lot of good freshmen coming up as well as a couple good sophomores. ” Coach Collwel told reporters. “In fact a couple of our top runners this is their first time running cross country and their times are dropping like crazy. “

Joining a new sport presents itself with challenges but coming into a program raw and untrained gives coaches the ability to shape a players ability and grow their skill in the sport. With a team so young the potential of this program is unmatched and is definitely a team to watch for in the coming season.