Baylor's Simon Holden Still Motivated After Winning State Title

Senior Runner Looking For More At Upcoming Foot Locker Races

Tuesday, November 6, 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)

 

 



Chattooga High Hosts 5th Annual Bobcat Cheer Extravaganza

Nearly 450 cheer athletes of all different ages tumbled, danced and cheered on the mats at Chattooga High School  on Monday  night for the fifth annual Bobcat Cheer Extravaganza, presented and hosted by Georgia Northwestern.  Recreation teams, middle school teams and high school teams, both varsity and junior varsity, performed and competed in three ... (click for more)

Covenant's Moore Named USA South Player Of The Week

Covenant volleyball senior outside hitter Ginny Moore has been named the USA South Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 24, announced the conference on Monday afternoon. It is the fourth time in her career that Moore has earned the honor. It is also the first time this season that a Covenant volleyball player has garnered a weekly honor from the conference. A ... (click for more)

State Finds Photos Of Guns Used In Lookout Valley Murders On Morse's Phone, But Defense Says It Got Evidence Too Late

Prosecutors said Monday that there were six photos on the phone of Derek Morse of guns tied to the murder of three people at a Lookout Valley trailer park. However, defense attorney Dan Ripper said the phone should have been checked out years ago - not on the eve of the trial. He said he got the photos last Monday - the day before jury selection began. Prosecutor Lance ... (click for more)

Opportunity Zone Begins Effort To Transform 12 Low-Performing County Schools

The Hamilton County Department of Education announced the new Opportunity Zone team that officials said "will ensure every student is post-secondary ready." The schools in this zone are: Brainerd High, The Howard School, East Lake Middle Academy, Dalewood Middle, Orchard Knob Middle, Barger Academy of Fine Arts, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, Clifton Hills ... (click for more)

Titans Hide In The Locker Room

This Sunday, as has been widely reported, the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks both chose to remain in their respective locker rooms during the playing of the National Anthem at Nissan Stadium.  Besides the fact that the NFL game operations manual has a rule regarding player behavior during the playing of the National Anthem which requires them to stand at attention ... (click for more)

Roy Exum - Why Al Took A Stand

“Help me, sir!” 18-year-old Jesse Dietrich cried to his lieutenant. “Please sir, I need help …” the Private First Class begged as blood streamed from where the kid had been shot in the chest during an intense Taliban ambush. The platoon leader had just dragged the 18-year-old by his backpack down a dark alley in withering gunfire, all the while returning fire over the fallen soldier ... (click for more)