by MICHAEL DASHIELL
For Sequim cross country coach Harold Huff, the best day of the cross country season is actually a tie — between the first and last.
In between is a whole lot of running and a test of endurance for both the athletes and their coaches.
Not that Huff is complaining. The longtime Sequim coach is the recipient of the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association’s 2A boys coach of the year.
Huff will be honored at 2015 Washington State Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Convention on Jan. 17 at the Everett Holiday Inn.
“I think they try to pass it around some; otherwise, the Gig Harbor and Sehome coaches would win every year,” Huff joked. “It’s still quite an honor. I’m sure it had a lot to do with this year but I wouldn’t be surprised (if) it’s a product of years of performance.”
And what a year 2014 was for the Wolves. Sequim’s boys squad earned their highest state ranking with a No. 2 spot and backed it up all the way to the state 2A meet, where they finished second overall — best in school history — just one spot behind defending state champ Sehome.
The Wolves nearly upset a top-ranked Sehome Mariners squad that saw 60 runners turn out for the team (Sequim had 16).
“That group in general has been really good for three years in a row,” Huff said. “Every year they’ve gotten more successful.”
But it’s just another chapter in a long line of successful seasons for Huff and the Wolves. SHS’s cross country squads have produced seven district champions, 10 state team berths and a pair of individual state champions: Stephanie Dinius (Marcy) and Allison Cutting.
“We’ve done pretty good the past couple of years,” Huff said.
Huff took over the cross country squad in 2001 and found success right away, posting a Nisqually League title on the girls’ side. A year later, Sequim’s girls earned a spot at the 3A state meet and placed 15th, the first of seven consecutive state berths for the Sequim girls.
In recent years, it’s been Sequim’s boys to take the lead. In 2012, Sequim’s boys raced to a ninth-place finish at the state 2A meet, then placed fifth in 2013 and second this past fall.
“They’re great: all the kids are. Even I couldn’t believe some of the workouts they did … and how crisp and how well they did the workouts,” Huff said. “I killed them with some of the hardest workouts I can imagine. That was a special group. They were experienced and they’re good and they had a goal.”
Huff said his boys team could be just as good — or better — if they stay dedicated and get a couple of key athletes — Wendall Lorenzen, Christian Ash and Andy Hansted, in particular — to move into the upper echelon of Olympic League runners.
“I think they realize only way a chance to beat these guys is to buy into it and do some offseason work,” Huff said.
So unless something changes, Huff — who has hinted at retiring from his coaching spot for the past couple of years — will be back leading workouts for next fall’s SHS cross country teams.
“The best part is (I get) to interact with young kids. I’ve just really been blessed with young adults. It’s fun to see them go from an average team over the course of a year.”
Huff becomes Sequim’s second coach to earn a Washington State Coach of the Year honor. Rick Kaps was named Washington State Coach of the Year for boys basketball following the 1987-1988 season in which he led the Wolves to the state 3A title game, placing second.