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Christian’s Sports Beat: Smart training equals smart results


By Christian Deiss

Hurricane High School cross country runner Brian Middaugh entered the season the 25th-ranked runner in Class AAA by Courtesy photo

After a strong showing during his freshman cross country and track seasons, a Hurricane High School runner knows continued hard work will pay off in the long run.

Brian Middaugh begins the cross country season as the 25th-ranked AAA runner by, for West Virginia high schools.

I see Brian training quite a lot at the high school, as my cross country team from Hurricane Middle School also uses the Putnam County athletic facility for workouts.

After a recent training session, I talked to Middaugh about his first year as a high school runner, and he said, “I learned a lot. I knew by running under Coach Cooper (Hurricane High’s head cross country and track coach), I would become a smarter and better runner. He got me on a training program that totally suits me, which helped me drop my times throughout the cross country and track seasons.”

Middaugh came in 47th place in last year’s state cross country championships.

I ran against Middaugh when he was an eighth-grader at Winfield Middle School in both cross country and track. He told me there is a significant difference between middle school and high school competition.

“It was definitely different for me; every race was so much faster and more competitive. I had to become more focused and know that training was the key, if I was going to be serious.”

Middaugh was a member of the 4-x-800-meter relay team at Winfield Middle that set the state middle school record for the event.

As previously mentioned, watching over Middaugh’s training is Coach Eric Cooper, who is starting his third season heading up Hurricane’s running teams. Coach Cooper was clear with me about what he thought of the young runner’s potential, saying, “It’s really up to him. He has the work ethic, he is coming off a strong spring and he has put the work in this summer. With him, like it is with other young runners, it just comes down to doing the little things that are the mental side of competing and knowing you can run with anybody in the state. He is just a sophomore and he is on the level right now to run with anybody.”

The boys cross country team for Hurricane is currently ranked fourth in the state by

I have spoken with Coach Cooper many times about training and racing and consider him a true authority. It was great to hear Middaugh and I agreed on that matter. “It’s just great to be part of not only a great team, but it is also a fun team and this is how Coach Cooper makes it. He makes sure we work hard and know our capabilities, but he makes sure we have fun as a team, too.”

A good example of that is it’s not uncommon to see the team tossing a football around, before training begins at the high school’s track.

Coming out of the box ranked fourth is pretty strong, and Coach Cooper says having runners like Middaugh and his teammates will help the team raise the bar. “Out of our top seven runners, anyone can be our top runner on any given day. That is what makes this team special, so some days I think Brian can be our number one and some days he might set a PR (personal record) and be our number five runner.”

Middaugh’s family moved to Teays Valley area in 2012, and he began running track and cross country while in the seventh grade.

It’s been fun to watch and be a part of the growth of running in the area and watching over fellow young runners like Brian Middaugh have good things happen from being committed to the sport.


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