From Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, varsity cross-country Head Coach Dr. Lalo Diaz coached at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.
The Nike Cross Nationals (formerly known as Nike Team Nationals) is an invitational cross-country meet that serves as the unofficial team national championship of United States high school cross-country. It was designed to heighten competition between high school cross-country teams nationwide.
The race is three miles long, winding through the Glendoveer Golf course, running up and down hills, and traversing assorted terrains.
There, the 23 top cross-country teams from across the nation compete for the highly coveted Winged Goddess of Victory statue. The country is divided into nine regions, with California receiving its own.
The runners spend the week mingling with the numerous Olympic athletes sponsored by Nike. Many of these runners participated in this meet in previous years and bring their gold medals to show the participants. Nike Cross Nationals is an unofficial national race, and because of this, schools are not allowed to use their actual school name. In most cases schools will use their city name plus “XC Club.”
Diaz was invited to coach the West All-Star Individuals.
Diaz said, “The players came from all over the state and are without their coach, so I serve as their chaperone and coach to answer their many questions in regards to uniforms and what they can accept from Nike without jeopardizing their college eligibility. We also jog the course and strategize where they should make their move.”
Diaz has been invited to coach at the Nike Cross Nationals for the past seven years. In those years, the Cub’s cross-country team has qualified for the event four times, and individuals Elias Gideon and Robert Brandt qualified individually in 2010 and 2015, respectively.
After the California State Championship, the five fastest boys and the five fastest girls qualified to compete in the national championship.
Diaz said, “It is an incredible experience. We are welcomed by the owner Phil Knight, and he lavishes the kids with all the Nike gear. The kids are always enthused because they mingle among the Olympians who represent Nike, many of whom bring their gold medals.”
Diaz said, “They are there for the entire week and they feel special. This is their All-Star weekend. The race is a promotion of cross-country, and the essence of what cross-country is all about.”