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Coach looking to install “Pack Mentality”

  • Written by Derek Johnson

Frank Shuck is fired up. The 60-year old head coach for Woodinville track will be leading the cross country team for the first time this fall.

Distance running is his forte. During his high school days in California, Shuck’s team ranked third nationally. And as a head coach, he built a winning program at Inglemoor.

He retired two years ago, but then was lured back into action when the Woodinville job opened up. With the 2017 season about to start, he’s pleased with the leadership shown by his captains.

Cross CuntryThe Woodinville Falcons running in the late afternoon sun. (Photo by Derek Johnson) “The captains are taking control,” Shuck said. “Not authoritarian control, but in the sense of taking the lead. I really believe in [emphasizing captain leadership]. These kids actually start running for themselves and their team and their captains. Because if you’re just running for your coach, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’m a very athletes-centered coach. It’s not about me, it’s about them. They own their running, I can’t do it for them.”

This year’s captains for the girls squad are Sophie Hall, Melissa Phung, Abby Ellis and Alex Howerton. For the boys, Dustin Lind, Mitchell Johnson, Tom Wheaton and Michael Fletcher lead the way.

“All these guys have incredible potential,” Shuck said.

Coach Shuck is looking to install a different philosophy into the Woodinville program.

“The way I run cross country is with a pack mentality,” he said. “If you have one or two runners out there who are way ahead of everyone else, the rest of the pack feels like they’re not part of the team. Guess what? They don’t win championships. [This team] will learn to run together. They will have to understand this is how a team works.”

Shuck was asked to elaborate.

“If I do a pack mentality, it may not be the fastest team in terms of the top 5 or top 7 runners,” he said. “But it can be a championship team because they have the lowest score by offsetting other teams basically. It’s strategy. A lot people don’t understand how cross country works.

“What I’m talking about isn’t new or secret,” he said. “Cross country teams will take their  top 3, 4 and 5 [runners] and have them run together. Suddenly that chemistry starts to develop. If a Luke Houser runs a 15:45, and you have a Dustin Lind running in the 16:00s, the rest of the boys are suddenly in the 17:00s when they were running in the 18:00s or 19:00s.”
Shuck mentioned multi-ple times that his freshmen and sophomore classes are bursting with potential.

“Our primary goal this season is fitness and to keep the team injury-free,” he said. “I want to develop a culture here at Woodinville.”

The Falcons will participate in a league jamboree on September 6th. They will then open the season at St Edwards Park on September 13th against Bothell and Skyline.

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