Eagle-Vail: Long takes over Battle Mountain cross country | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail: Long takes over Battle Mountain cross country

Ken Long
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EAGLE-VAIL ” First of all, the name just sounds good.

Long is just a good name for a cross country coach.

Then there’s the fact that he’s run marathons in his home town of Detroit as well as in Denver. Throw in that he’s been an assistant track coach, specializing in long-distance running, and Battle Mountain has its new cross county coach for the fall in Ken Long.

“It’s part of my life. I run every single morning before work,” Long said Thursday as the Huskies were preparing for the Western Slope Championship meet this weekend. “I run every single practice with the kids. I’ve run a couple marathons. Running’s a part of my life. These kids are going to be a part of my running and part of my life. It’s going to be great.”

Long takes over a program which has seen no shortage of success. The boys finished the fall with their fourth-consecutive league title under former coach Lyle Knudsen. With coach Rob Parish, the Huskies were a Colorado powerhouse, winning the girls state title in 2005, followed by boys’ championships in 2006 and 2007.

Long comes to Eagle-Vail from Detroit. He started his high-school career as a sprinter in track, but like most in the sport, stumbled into cross country and found he really loved it.

He attended Central Michigan University, graduating with a degree in business administration. He moved out to Colorado three years ago and is the controller of the Vail Valley Foundation when not running with the Battle Mountain track team.

Having run cross country in high school himself, he knows what the experience is like and how to get kids out for a sport that can be physically and mentally draining.

“We’re going to work with them on an individual basis,” Long said. “I know not every kid is going to compete at the same level. We’ll work with them individually and as each year goes by, they’ll be amazed by the things they accomplish.

“I was part of that experience. In high school, when I got there, my first cross-country race, I probably ran a 23- or 24-minute race. By the time I graduated, I was running low-17s. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s part of the team experience. If they all show up to practice and they all seem like they’re working hard, I think it’s almost natural they come together.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.