Baylor's Simon Holden Still Motivated After Winning State Title

Senior Runner Looking For More At Upcoming Foot Locker Races

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - by John Hunt

Simon Holden has a long list of impressive accomplishments since he got serious about his running career four years ago, but the most recent may have been the one he wanted the worst and certainly the one he had to work the longest to acquire.

Just last Saturday at Nashville's Percy Warner Park, the senior Red Raider won a state championship in cross country, covering a hilly and challenging 5K course in 16 minutes, six seconds and beating his nearest competitor by 18 seconds.

It had been a long road to this latest win.  He had run this race each of the past three years, posting a time of 17:51 as a freshman  and 18:15 as a sophomore when "I did really bad as I went out too hard, thinking I had a shot at winning."

Last year, he got a whole lot closer as he finished second, but he's spent virtually every training mile since then preparing for one of the biggest wins of his career.

So what did he do on Sunday to celebrate his latest state title?  He went kayaking for most of the day.

Holden has been a very coachable young man.  He's good at following race strategy devised by Baylor coach Jan Gautier, who has been his varsity coach these past four years.  Such was the case last Saturday with the best runners in the state present to watch.

"My plan was to do what we had to do to win.  I tried to go out with a conservative first mile, because I didn't want to die and get beat like I had done in previous years.  I felt good for the first half and then coach Gautier told me to take off at that point," the soft-spoken fellow said before a short run and pool workout on Monday afternoon.

"That course always hits me hard and it was kind of windy on Saturday.  That last uphill climb looks a lot worse than it is, but I really felt good at the end.  I finally won the race I'd been trying to win for the last three years.  All of a sudden, it's now what?  I can't afford to dwell too much on it as I hope to keep getting better.

"I was really hoping to break 16 minutes in that race.  I'm knocking on the door as I'm getting faster.  Maybe the Foot Locker race in Charlotte will be a breakout day for me," the son of Alisa and Horace Holden continued.

"I had already won several state titles in track, so it was really important to win in cross country this year.  I don't think winning on Saturday has fully set in yet," Holden smiled.

Simon finished fourth at the ever-competitive Tennessee Classic on this same course back in September.  It was the only race of the season he didn't win.  He would  be the first to tell you that he enjoys all kinds of outdoor activity and that he prefers running trails as opposed to roads, but he also has a huge liking for track.

Just last spring at the state meet in Murfreesboro, he proved just how strong and fast he was by winning the 3200, 1600 and 800 runs on the same day.  As if that wasn't enough, he came back and ran a 51-second quarter in the 1600 relay as he helped his teammates finish third in that race.

He was the 1600 state champ as a sophomore.

"Brandon Lord was a senior when I was a freshman and my goal has been to be a better runner than him.  This spring, I'm going for the school records in the 1600 and 800," he added, noting that Oliver Townsend has those marks of 4:09 and 1:53.

Gautier has watched this young man get faster, stronger and more mature as the years have passed.  She has her own history of being a dominant runner, so she easily recognizes talent when she sees it.

"Simon has been a diamond in the rough the whole time I've coached him these past four years.  He was a lacrosse player before he decided to be a competitive runner.  He will probably hate me for saying this, but he was a chunky kid in the seventh grade," Gautier said with a laugh.

"I remembered him running in middle school and I was shaking the bushes trying to find guys to run cross country.  He's always had good speed.

"He did exactly what he needed to do on Saturday.  I told him to go on the downhill section at the halfway point.  He was in total control.  I can tell when he's ready to race.  He had a lead of about 100 meters by the time he reached the second mile mark.

"My only disappointment was him not breaking 16 minutes.  He's worked so hard and he deserves it," she praised the three-time Runner of the Year in the Chattanooga Cross Country League.

"I must admit I was nervous before Saturday's race.  I knew he was well prepared, but there have been things go wrong before as so much can happen in a three-mile race.  He ended up running a near-perfect race.

"Simon is the complete package.  He's always the first one to ask what he can do to help and he's the kid you want your daughter to marry.  He has the respect of every athlete on this campus.

Dillon Clemmer also earned All-State honors in Saturday's race.  He and Holden have been the Baylor captains this year.  Alex Dunn joins them as the only three seniors on the team.

"These guys have been with me from the beginning.  I'll miss them next year," Gautier concluded.

High school cross country has ended for Holden at Baylor, but he's hoping to do well at the Foot Locker regional race in Charlotte on Nov. 24, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The top 10 advance to the national championship race, which is always held at Balboa Park in San Diego.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

 

 


Dan Bailey Still Plodding Along After All These Years

Dan Bailey has been retired from the Tennessee American Water Company for more than 10 years now, so he doesn’t get in a hurry to do anything. He jokes about how slow he runs these days, but he felt better when reminded that if it wasn't for people like him, there would be no overall winners in local races. The 71-year-old Bailey is originally from Ohio where he ... (click for more)

Lookout Rowing Earns Club National Medals

It was a good weekend on the water for Lookout Rowing Club as five boats competed at the Club Nationals Regatta in Oak Ridge, with four in the finals and two earning silver medals. Men’s Lt Weight Double : A pair of local high school coaches - David Hall (Chattanooga Junior Rowing) and Anders Swanson (GPS) - combined talents and rowed to a silver medal ... (click for more)

EPB Files With FCC To Expand TV, Phone, Internet Offerings Outside Electric Service Area

 EPB announced Thursday that it has filed a petition to the FCC "in an effort to respond to neighboring communities’ requests for access to the company’s gigabit enabled high-speed Internet service." Officials said, "EPB offers high-speed Internet access, video programming and voice services using a fiber optic communications network that allows the company to deliver these ... (click for more)

Black Creek Developers Say They "Followed The Rules" On $9 Million TIF: To Continue Project

The developers of the Black Creek project at Aetna Mountain said Thursday they "complied precisely by the rules when we applied for and received approval of the TIF district." Doug Stein said the group plans to continue on with the project, which he said earlier would include the creation of a small town on a huge undeveloped tract on the mountain above Black Creek (formerly ... (click for more)

Pickle Ball? - And Response

Collegedale has done some wonderful things for its residents.  The Greenway is a perfect example of money well spent on helping to give her residents the opportunity to improve their lives, at least from a health standpoint. Having taught at Wolftever Creek for a decade plus, I was fortunate to have opportunity to take my classes on walks from time to time.  It provided ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Say It Ain't So, Larry Joe!

Larry Joe Wheelon, the tainted horse trainer who was charged with 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty when his barn was raided in April of 2013 and some animals were sored so badly that they could barely walk, finally went to a court hearing in Blount County on Wednesday and his steps toward Judge Tammy Harrington’s bench were decidedly heavy. My goodness, yours would have been ... (click for more)