Herald file photo
Amy Wigand (née Lorey), pictured here as a senior for Jasper Cross Country in 1992, is the mother of current Wildcats runner, Ally Wigand, who is in her sophomore year.
With COREY STOLZENBACH
Jasper's runners have been preparing for Saturday's State Finals at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute this week. When the Wildcats compete against each other on Saturday, some of them will be on a familiar stage, trying to improve on from years gone by, while others will be on uncharted territory when they compete for the first time in the state.
But everyone will be part of something that hasn't been done before.
Jasper's boy and girl runners will compete as teams in the state finals for the first time that same year – a breakthrough that runners from generations before have not achieved. Many runners who start on Saturday are children of former Wildcat runners themselves – and two of these Jasper alums have the best spots in the house.
"As a parent, I'm very proud of my daughter," said Jasper head coach Kevin Schipp, a 1996 graduate who will coach his daughter Emma on Saturday. "She's a newcomer and she can see how she confesses. For me it was my junior and senior year, we made it to the region. That was a win for us. I think we've had a long one since then Covered way.
"In the first year I trained cross country in 2003, our girls 'team managed to hold their own and our boys' team didn't make it out of the section," he continued. "I am glad that we are achieving consistency in the boys 'and girls' teams on both sides."
Kevin is training cross country for the Wildcats in his 18th season and Emma has grown up with the program over the years. She has known it and has been a part of it all her life, and she looks forward to finally being here and competing for the program her father has coached since she was born.
"I went to the meetings, ran around with the runners – ran around with my dad while he was training," said Emma. "They are some of my earliest memories."
Emma remembers Kevin sharing her stories about the Jasper runners who did great things and went to the state. These runners were influences to look up to and she dreamed of being a part of them one day. This is here one day and Emma is part of more than the program – she is part of the program as it makes history. Also this year the boys and girls won the section championship for the first time in the same year.
"It's pretty cool to see something that I've watched all my life to finally be there and run for the wildcats," she said.
Kevin isn't the only ex-Jasper runner to become a coach with a kid on Saturday. Assistant trainer Tara Eckman (née Brames), a 1992 graduate, also applied for the program, and she will take the state tour with her son, junior star runner Abe Eckman of the current Wildcats.
"I'm just trying to support him as a mother," said Tara. "As a coach, I really don't care much about Abe. When I do, it's nutrition. He and I spend a lot of time thinking about his diet – what he's going to eat, when he's going to eat it, and that's probably the one greatest influence that I have on him personally. "
Tara said she wasn't the best runner of her day, but she had to be part of some semi-state teams when she ran for Jasper.
Abe told the Herald that his mother told him to work the hardest and that his high school days go by quickly, and the Jasper cross-country program strengthens the bond Tara and Abe have with each other.
"It gives us more middle ground because we both like to run," Abe said. "The fact that we both connect through running helps us because it creates an even deeper relationship."
Others may relate to the bond Tara and Abe have through the Jasper cross-country program.
“We're so interested in running that it's incredibly strong and we talk about it all the time, that I think almost everything during the day includes what we eat, what we're going to run next. Are my running shorts clean? ? & # 39; "Said Andrea Hulsman (née Jenkins), a 2000 Jasper graduate and mother of Harrison Hulsman, the second greatest boy runner. “Right now it's all about running and dieting and preparing for the next race. So it becomes a bonding event at home around the clock (laughter). "
An evolving program
Like almost everything in life, the Jasper Cross Country program has seen its changes and evolutions from Kevin and Tara as coaches for the Wildcats to now as coaches leading Jasper to the state.
"The numbers are definitely improved, and a lot of that is coming from a middle school program that we didn't have then," said Kevin. “That came about the second or third year after I started coaching. Audrey Werner, who is still one of the trainers in middle school, was the driving force behind the start and that was a big deal for our program. "
Kevin took over the program when he was 23, training runners who had never raced cross country before but worked hard and had the athletic skills to make it on the girls' side. The guys were ready to work too, but Jasper built for that over time. This year is the seventh time Kevin has picked up the girls team, while it's the second time – and the second year in a row – that he has taken the boys.
"Hopefully we'll make it a consistent thing," he said. "I think that's the thing – just building the program. It's because of the coaches that we had and the athletes that we were ready to do the job. It's cool to look back and see what happens is – where we come from, where we are right now. "
Herald file photo
Jasper head cross-country trainer Kevin Schipp (picture 1995 in the third from left, top row as a senior) graduated in 1996 and is the father of the current Jasper runner Emma Schipp, a newcomer.
Andrea told the Herald on Tuesday that cross country is now a more competitive sport than it was with Jasper. The Wildcats started training just before the cross-country season, but that is no longer true.
"You train all year round and we never did that with running," she said. "Most of us trained in the spring of course, but we didn't train all year round. It's definitely gotten more competitive and I think it's more of a popular and serious sport now."
Advances in technology and the Internet have also increased the knowledge of runners and coaches within the program.
"There's just so much more understanding of the science of running than there was 30 years ago," said Tara. "Well, I think that's the greatest – and we all kind of became students of it."
t all has changed, however.
"What has stayed the same, what I just love, love, love, is that it's family-like," said Tara. "We are such a close-knit team and that was the case back then. These girls I was with are still people with whom I like to meet and are up to date with old times."
Andrea repeated the same feeling.
"Everyone always says," Well, how can you like to run? "She said." Running while you're doing it isn't fun per se, and you always say to yourself, 'Gosh, why am I going through this?' But when it's all done, you just can't Wait until you're out there again, but it's your friends, family, and teammates who are bringing you back because it really feels like family. "
Photo by Corey Stolzenbach / Der Herold
Junior Abe Eckman, Jaspers Starrunner, is the son of Tara Eckman (née Brames), a 1992 graduate and current assistant trainer who also ran cross country for the Wildcats.
Goals and expectations
Various Jasper runners and their parents who used to run have certain expectations of them as they prepare for the state finals.
"I want to be in the top 20 to get a medal," Abe said. "As a team, we could all reach the top 15."
"Last year I placed maybe 190 out of maybe 250," said Harrison. "This year I want to be in the top 75. It's a big jump, but I feel like I can do it."
INCCStats.com currently has Harrison ranked 102nd in the state for individual boy runners. Andrea has full confidence that if he doesn't make it, he will at least try to reach the top 75. However, she has a different goal for him.
"It usually goes like this – he sets a goal that I think is achievable and then I usually raise the bar a little higher," she said. “So if he says he's going to get to the top 75, I'll tell him he can get to 65. And then he usually tries to push it a little more, but that's just the mother in me trying to push it a little bit more. "
Amy Wigand (née Lorey), a 1993 graduate, shared her advice for her second daughter, Ally, as she prepares for the state.
“I told her she was lucky enough to enjoy going to the state,” Amy said. “When I was running, our team never managed to say anything. I want her to work hard, but I am enjoying this moment because not everyone can attend the state meeting. "
"I want to try to get a personal best and just run as fast as possible," Ally told the Herald earlier on Tuesday.
Kevin believes Abe and his junior Andi VanMeter are capable of winning medals and / or being all-state. He told his runners that they are never afraid of the competition – he didn't think they behaved like this on October 24th in Brown County Semi-State, and doesn't think Saturday will be any different. Kevin told them this was an opportunity to prove yourself.
INCCStats.com has Jasper 28th for boys and 29th for girls.
"We won't be aiming for a team win," said Kevin. "We're not in this stadium right now, but we definitely want to do more than the statistics say we can."