For Davis High cross country coach Bill Gregg and his son Brendan, running has always been an important part of life.
Brendan Gregg — who is one of several runners and coaches, including his dad, with local ties who will be honored by the Sacramento Running Association this week — said having his father as a coach in high school really helped his career.
“It really worked, with him as a coach and me as the athlete,” the younger Gregg explained. “It sometimes bothered my mom (Carolee), how we would always talk about running at the dinner table.”
In being honored at the SRA’s Annual Achievement Dinner on Saturday in Sacramento, the Greggs will be joined by DHS cross country superstar Fiona O’Keeffe, former UC Davis standout and 2012 Olympian Kim Conley, Aggie speedsters Alycia Cridebring and Lauren Wallace and UCD coach Drew Wartenburg. That Davis septet is part of 47 total runners receiving recognition from the SRA.
Brendan Gregg, who recently represented the U.S. national team in Scotland and is qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials in Richmond, Va., will be honored — along with Conley — for achievement in the Open division. This division recognizes post-collegiate and professional runners.
According to Bill Gregg, his son’s success has come from dreaming big: Brendan Gregg’s ultimate goal is to represent his country on the 2016 Olympic marathon team. And he works hard every day in pursuit of that goal.
“I just run a whole lot of miles to train,” said Gregg, who starred at Stanford after competing for DHS. “I try to keep up consistent 100-mile weeks and the high-volume, high-intensity workouts really help me.”
Conley, who last year received the SRA’s Female Athlete of the Year award, broke onto the international scene with a third-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the 2012 U.S. Trials to earn a spot on the American team for the London Games.
In 2013, Conley took an impressive fourth place at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to qualify for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, where she placed 12th in the world.
Conley, a 2008 graduate of UCD, also helps out Wartenburg as a volunteer assistant coach for the Aggie cross country and track and field teams.
One UCD runner who has learned a lot from Conley is Cridebring, the highest Aggie female finisher at the 2013 Big West Cross Country Championships. Also a track standout, Cridebring set the UCD 5,000-meter record last season when she ran a 15:49.05.
Not just a great athlete, Cridebring was named to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic squad, along with Wallace, her track teammate with the Aggies.
Last season, Wallace was an NCAA All-American after setting a UCD record with her 800-meter time of 2:02.91.
Wartenburg, who also is the personal coach for Conley, directed both Cridebring and Wallace in his role as the Aggie director of track and field and cross country. He is a two-time Big West Cross Country Coach of the Year and his women’s track and field squads won conference championships in 2011 and 2012.
O’Keeffe will be honored following an incredible prep season that saw her set a new section record in winning the Sac-Joaquin individual championship — the DHS girls also won the team title — and run the fastest time ever by a California sophomore in capturing the CIF state crown. O’Keeffe’s outing at the state meet helped the Devils take second place and earn a bid to the Nike Cross Nationals.
Her coach, Bill Gregg, says O’Keeffe’s success comes from her great attitude about racing:
“Fiona is a fierce competitor. When the gun goes off, something also goes off in her head that makes her great. She is also very disciplined, hardworking and focused.”
Gregg, who will be honored as a high school coach, has been the leading the DHS boys and girls cross country teams — and coaching the distance runners during track season — since 1997.
Though he has won an incredible 20 section cross country titles, Gregg’s goal as a coach is actually to serve as many young athletes as he can. His Blue Devils harrier squads often have as many as 120 runners on the roster
“We challenge ourselves to have a really large team … because we want to serve as many kids as we can and being on the team is a great experience,” Gregg explained. “We feel strongly that if the athletes just keep working then they are going to improve. We measure success based on how much you improve.”
Gregg is a UCD graduate, who ran for the Aggie cross country squad.