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HIGH COUNTRY RUNNING

High Country Running: Introducing the Mogollon Monsters

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Ben and Vince

Ben Rosario (left) and Vince Sherry often work together, as on the HOPI Food and Goods drive they organized in 2020.

The Team Run Flagstaff youth running team is back, but with a new name and a slightly new format. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the Mogollon Monsters Track Club.

Vince Sherry, the owner of Run Flagstaff, and I met this spring to discuss bringing back the youth component of Team Run Flagstaff, and it was a pretty short meeting. We were both on board right away.

Working with runners of all ages and abilities is a core part of what Vince has done for so many years through his store and more recently through Team Run Flagstaff.

And for me as executive director of the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite professional team, working with kids is a great way to give back to the Flagstaff community.

I will serve as the team’s head coach, with a cast of characters from the Flagstaff running world helping out all season long. Our goal will be to introduce team members to the fun of running.

We hope that by the time they “graduate” from our program as 14-year-olds, Mogollon Monsters will be excited about running in high school and will be a couple steps ahead in terms of knowing what to expect.

On a personal level, I’m thrilled to be back at the helm of a youth running team.

Way back in 2004 and 2005, I coached the Van Hoosen Middle School track team in Rochester, Michigan. From 2006 through 2012, I coached the St. Louis Blazers Track Club in Saint Louis, Missouri, and from 2012 through 2014 I coached the Mount Elden Middle School cross country team here in Flagstaff.

Introducing kids to the sport of running is a passion of mine. As long as I am involved in this sport, I want to be working with young people in some capacity.

But if you are reading this and thinking that maybe the coach of an Olympic marathoner can turn your child into an Olympian, I have bad news for you. That’s not our goal. We just want to instill the joy of running in these kids.

Yes, we will do workouts — you could think of them as mini versions of workouts they will do in high school.

Yes, we will teach them how to compete. All Monsters will receive a complimentary entry into the Fourth of July Flagstaff Downtown Mile, and we’ll have an intra-squad track meet, as well as a 2-mile cross country race, the final week of practice.

But we will leave the more serious stuff to the great coaches at all the awesome high schools here in town, when the time comes. For the Monsters, it’s all in the name of learning and getting excited about the sport.

Ben Rosario is the executive director of the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite professional team.

Julie Hammonds is the coordinating editor of High Country Running. Send your running stories and news to runner@juliehammonds.com.

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