The man behind the team

Cross Country- Mr. Matthew Pence

Coming+from+a+background+in+running%2C+Coach+Pence+is+a+natural+for+leadership.

Daniela Contreras

Coming from a background in running, Coach Pence is a natural for leadership.

Skylar Willis, Staff Writter

Coach Matthew Pence is in charge of the Cross-Country team in the fall and the Track and Field team in the spring. He has been running since he was in sixth grade at B Gale. Wilson. The current coach at that school was his coach back then, too. Fourteen years ago, Coach Pence started as an assistant coach at Armijo, and he became the head coach seven years ago. 

He started coaching because when he was in college. At the time, he had injured his ankle and had to get surgery on it, so he had to stop running. Still, he wanted to stay with the sport so he started coaching. He also wanted to give students a good experience in running.

Cross-Country practices six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Some practices are on campus, with athletes using the track, hurdles, and weight room. Sometimes they meet in Coach Pence’s room, D2, and other times the team runs around the Fairfield/Suisun area. 

Coach Pence offered some advice for new runners and people getting back into running. He encourages them to stay consistent. “You can’t run seven miles one day and nothing for the rest of the week and expect to suddenly be an awesome runner,” he said. “It takes time and patience. You have to make running a routine.”

On days the team isn’t on campus, they often run out in Lagoon Valley and Paradise Valley. They also run at Solano Community College, Rancho Solano Golf Course and near the Cordelia Library. Official practices started the day after school started, but some of the athletes also practiced during the summer. Practices vary based on the heat, the day of the week, and the location. On-campus practices start at 4 pm and off-campuses generally start at 4:15. Most of the time they are about two hours long and the athletes run between three-and-a-half and six miles, depending on how long they can run without struggling. 

The races in Cross-Country are separated into two groups: Soph/Frosh, which is sophomores and freshmen – and Varsity, which is mostly juniors and seniors, but can include underclassmen as well. Soph/Frosh athletes race two miles and Varsity athletes race three miles. 

Some races are flat while some have hills.  Runners should pace themselves and not go out too fast, especially if there are hills ahead. 

There is one specific three-mile race in Los Angeles called Wood bridge. It’s known to be difficult because it’s completely flat and fast, so athletes have to pace themselves. It’s a lot like running on a track. Cross-Country runners who attended that meet this year got to go to Disneyland for a day, too. It is a good motivator to practice and raise money for the trip.

Thanks to the leadership of Coach Pence, camaraderie develops among the athletes and the team is really a big group of friends. Coach Pence’s biggest hope for everyone on the team is that they continue running and that they enjoy it.