Heartland Distance Summit Set June 29-30

What began as a dream for four Kansas City area distance running coaches will become reality when the Heartland Distance Summit takes place on June 29-30 in Overland Park.

The clinic is geared toward high school distance coaches who want to expand their knowledge about training theory and building team culture.


"There is tremendous value in hosting a clinic like this in our region," said Justin Wrigley, head coach for cross country at St. Thomas Aquinas. "I think seeking knowledge from others is easily one of the most important things that we do as coaches. Whether it's reading books, finding articles or podcasts on line or attending clinics, we owe it to our athletes to continue to educate ourselves so we can do a better job for them."


The clinic is the brainchild of coaches Chris McAfee of Mill Valley, Levi Huseman of Olathe North, Aaron Davidson of Shawnee Mission North and Wrigley. It will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas High School (11411 Pflumm Road in Overland Park), and the cost for coaches is $75 if you register by June 1.


"Hosting this clinic has been a big goal and something my colleagues and I have become very passionate about," Wrigley said. "We have been working on this together with the goal of bringing in some of the best high school distance coaches in the country to share their knowledge here in the middle of the nation.


"As students of the sport, all four of us love learning from others and this just seemed like a fun way to get involved and bring something special to the Kansas City area," Wrigley added. "Kansas City has a strong cross country scene and it is also a town that is easily accessible to coaches from Wichita, St. Louis, Des Moines and beyond."


The speakers include coaches who have not only established strong distance running traditions in their home states, but also on the national scene. They include:


* Scott Christensen from Stillwater High School in Stillwater, Minnesota, who has been coaching for 37 years and whose teams have been ranked in the top 20 in the nation nine times.


* Jonathan Dalby from Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, a 14-year coaching veteran who has won six state championships and whose teams have finished third (boys) and sixth (girls) at Nike nationals;


* Timothy Ives from Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, who has been coaching for 11 years and whose boys teams have won four state titles and are the only Iowa team ever to qualify for Nike nationals; and


* Jason Druten of West Torrance High School in Torrance, California, a 25-year coaching veteran whose team won the California D3 state championship in 2017, and the CIF Southern Section three times.


"Our four speaking coaches will each present one session specific to cross country training and a second session on a training topic of their choosing," Wrigley said. "We'll wrap up the clinic with a Q&A session including all four coaches."


A full clinic schedule, speaker bios, registration, hotels, and more information is available online at www.heartlanddistancesummit.com.