New coach looks to set pace for Warhorse cross country team

Tom Flynn
Special To The Black Mountain News

Still catching his breath after a hard run at the Buncombe County Championships at Asheville Christian Academy on September 5, Owen sophomore Trevor Nail was winded but happy with his effort, and that of his team.

“This course is really close to our school, and we came here on Monday to run it a few times to see how we’d do,” said Nail, who posted a 22:57.34. “We were hoping to get some PR’s here because it’s a pretty flat course. I think many of us did. We have our next meet this Friday (Sept 7.) and I feel like we’ll all be a lot more prepared for that.”

That was the sentiment among many of the Owen High School boys team members after the race. Not a spectacular result in a very tough field that included Asheville School, Reynolds, and T.C. Roberson. Still, it was an important early effort in assessing fitness and moved the squad along the endurance run that constitutes a cross-country season.

Junior Aidan Nalley clocked in at a brisk 19:51.52 and used the team’s last outing at Hendersonville, their first meet of the fall, to benchmark his squad’s progress.

“We ran really well, he said. "All of us got our best times, and we kicked it in in the last seconds to beat our scores last time."

Jared Pressley finished between Nalley and Nail and as a senior is a first time cross-country runner.

“I feel like we were faster than last time," Pressley said. "It was very flat with a mild hill, other than that it was fun."

Three different runners, three different times, and three slightly different frameworks for assessing a performance.

They all coincide with the approach of Bob Sadlemire, the first-year head coach at Owen who was still getting to know his team at the championships and ascertaining where they are, and where they need to be.

Sadlemire is a New England transplant, moving here from New Hampshire after a tech industry career that included a long stint with TomTom, the GPS manufacturer. His vocation in the Swannanoa Valley is as a realtor, which gives him the time to indulge his passion, coaching runners.

“I was in New Hampshire; I moved down here three years ago. I was in hi-tech, and the demands of that job wouldn’t allow me to coach,” Sadlemire said. “So I decided I would quit that and do real estate and coach as well.”

As an undergraduate, he ran first for New York’s Hudson Valley Community College and then moved on to New Hampshire College, now Southern New Hampshire University.

He got his competitive start running in upstate New York, at Keveny Memorial Academy, a small, Catholic high school that featured a team that was a state championship qualifier.

“We had a good team; we were a 5:10, 5:15 [mile] pace type runners in high school,” he said.

He’s trying to inject some of that pace into his 2018 squad with a progressive training regimen this fall.

“First think I try to do is get a base with a lot of distance,” Sadlemire said. “And now we’re moving into a phase where we’re doing more speed, pacing, five-milers, and then lots of quarters, halves, mile-repeats and that type of thing.”

The goal is to get the Warhorses to shave, on average, a minute off their 5k time, which loosely translates to trimming a minute off each runners’ mile time.

As to the effort at ACA, “Our top five guys were in the mid-19s," he said of the effort at ACA. "So, I think the top five guys need to be in the mid-to-low 18s. That’s the goal. If we do that we’ll be fine.”