PSHS cross country team welcomes new coach, sets sights on state championship
The Philip Simmons High School cross country program has a new coach and returns the same top-shelf talent. Is this the year the Iron Horses have all the ingredients to pick up their first XC state title in the school’s brief history?
You will have to stay tuned until November, but the words of that new coach, Josh Michael, sound encouraging.
“The kids who have stuck with the program the past two or three years are running personal bests in practice,” Michael said. “They have been working hard and are starting to see their labor pay off.”
“Before I met the kids, I looked at their results (from last year) and said to myself, ‘This is a team that should contend for a state championship. Everyone is like-minded and that’s the goal – to win the state championship,” he continued.
Michael is a 32-year-old native of Pottstown, Pa. who moved to Charleston from Southern California, near Ventura.
He attended a family wedding in Charleston less than four months ago, and that’s when he and his wife, Lindsay, decided to move to the Lowcountry. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Isla, and are expecting a child in January.
It was the logical move for Michael, who has 10 years’ experience as a coach, athletic director, teacher and trainer. He coached at public and private schools in California and now he gets to take the cross country program at PSHS to the next level.
“What an option. What an opportunity,” Michael said. “To coach and teach and spend quality family time was too good to pass up in such a beautiful area.”
The high level talent on the team is as good as any in the state.
Noah Ward is the top returner for the boys’ team, while Haley Meyers was the star of the girls’ team as a seventh-grader.
“They are both incredibly talented,” Michael said of his runners. “They are once-in-a-lifetime talent. Here, I get them in my first year of coaching.”
Last November, Ward had the best individual effort of the day in Class AA-A at the State Cross Country Championships at Sandhill. Ward, only a sophomore, claimed a gold medal in the championship with a time of 15:40.30 over the five-kilometer course. It was the fourth best time of the day regardless of classification.
Ward led Philip Simmons to a fourth-place finish in the Class A-AA boys’ meet. St. Joseph’s won the boys’ and girls’ titles.
Meyers returns as an eighth-grader to headline the girls’ team. Last year’s effort was talk of the Palmetto State running community as she made a name for herself in cross country and then made history at the State Track and Field Championships.
Meyers was seventh in the state at the cross country championships with a time of 19:15.88 in November.
Meyers built on her success in the recently completed track-and-field season. In her first year of competing in the sport, she had one of the best performances ever at the state meet, winning three state titles, sweeping the distance runs.
Meyers scored gold in the 800-meter run (2:19.57), 1,600-meter run (5:16.76) and the 3,200-meter run (11:59.30).