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Leaving big shoes to fill PDF Print E-mail
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 19:16

Paul ready to tackle new challenges after establishing era of excellence in track, cross country at CG-Belgium

Les Paul may get backs into coaching high school cross country someday, but for now he’s living in Hayward and working a busy job involving international travel.
Regardless, he has left some big shoes to fill, or at least fast ones.
After several years as an assistant, Paul was named head coach of Cedar Grove-Belgium’s girls and boys cross country teams in 2011, taking over after Ron Wood’s 30-year hall-of-fame career.
Paul, Les s2082709588 4CSince Paul started in 2004 as head or assistant coach of cross country and track teams, 13 teams finished in the top 10 in the state and 14 won conference titles. The state champions and runners-up totaled six.
Paul attributes some of his success to his daughters, Lily, Marina, Ali and Chloe.
“Most of them (on the podium) have the last name of Paul,” he said with a laugh.
“Ten straight years of Paul chicks — that’s what we call them, Paul chicks — in the program. What a privilege to have family who bought in.”
By the time Paul got involved in coaching running, he had tried and tested techniques. It wasn’t “Internet coaching” of looking up tips online.
Paul brought in techniques he honed from a decade of running Ironman races, in which competitors run, swim and bike.
“I trained all the time, still do,” he said last week while driving to a triathlon.
“A great portion of the stuff I train the kids on now was all as a result of my triathlon training,” he said.
He ran right along with his teams during practices.
“It sounds easy, but you have to live it. I would never ask the kids to do anything I wouldn’t do,” he said.

“In 13 years, I ran in every single practice and did every workout the kids did.”
Some practices were harder than others.
“Early on, if I was feeling like crap, I thought they would feel like crap. Then we didn’t do anything that would kill us,” he said.
Running to finish well at the state meet was the goal from Day 1. Paul didn’t care about early season results and would rather have his teams fly under the radar.
“What I established was the level of excellence that was expected, and it wasn’t optional. That’s the difference,” Paul said.
“If you came, we were going to have a blast but we’re either going to be awesome or we’re not going to do this.”
Do it they did. Counting both boys and girls since 2011, seven of a possible 12 teams qualified for state in cross country. All finished in the top 10, and the girls’ teams finished fourth, third and second from 2011 to 2013.
“It’s been a gas, greatest thing ever. Best memories,” Paul said.
“And I got spoiled. There are only a handful of teams around the state with that kind of legacy.”
Paul said his oldest daughter Ali started the line of excellence. As a freshman, she finished 47th in state in 2004. She was 13th as a sophomore, won the race as a junior and was 11th as a senior.
“Ali was an absolute hammer. The whole thing started when she decided to become a superstar,” her father said.
It helped that the team trained at the Paul Course, a cross country venue the family owns in the Town of Belgium that is well known across the state.
“The Paul Course had a lot to do with it. What a venue to spend your time at,” Paul said.
“It was groomed. It was a cross country course only. So that’s all we used it for.”
And it was hard. It didn’t have the most hills, but they were strategically placed.
“It’s where the hills fell at the time. From a coaching and aerobics perspective, it had hills in difficult areas that fell at weird times in a race that if you weren’t prepared for it, it would beat you up,” Paul said.
“Of all courses we ran on in 13 years, it was by far the hardest one.”
He also ran a training camp up north and just finished his ninth annual session, covering 55 miles in five days.
“That was a bit of the launching pad on the greatness, too,” he said.
Paul kept fitting in coaching around a job with increasing responsibility. He is in charge of a conveyer division at Fast Global Solutions, which makes equipment for customers like UPS and FedEx.
Paul admits it hasn’t been easy to give up coaching, and he hasn’t ruled out getting back into it.
“I miss it like crazy,” he said.
Paul remains friends with some of his runners.
“The friendships I’ve made are invaluable,” he said.
Regardless of the future, Paul is thankful for his run with the Rockets.
“The families bought in. The kids bought in. I’ll give the school a ton of credit. They let me do it,” he said.
Track and field coach Brandon Langer takes over the cross country program.

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