For Moffat County High School cross-country coach Todd Trapp, running has been life.
When it came time for him to graduate from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., he wasn’t prepared to leave one of his passions in the dust.
“I was coming close to graduation, and I didn’t really have any plans,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to teach and wanted to coach, and I thought about moving to Colorado. So, I got on the Internet and started looking for job opportunities in Colorado where I could teach (physical education) and coach cross-country and track.”
A job in physical education, along with assistant track and cross-country coaching positions, was available at Moffat County, so Trapp did not hesitate to apply.
Now at 31 years old, Trapp has been teaching physical education at Moffat County High School for eight years, and today, will lead the boys and girls squads as they attempt to bring home state titles in Fort Collins.
“At the beginning of year, the kids who have been on the team know the ultimate goal is to take both teams to the state meet,” he said. “If we have a year when we don’t go to the state meet, it’s kind of a disappointment. It’s an unsaid expectation.”
At 11 a.m., the boys team of Chris Zirkle, Alfredo Lebron, Alex McCoy, Corey Wojtkiewicz and Rene Molina will try to outrun a strong field.
At 12:30 p.m., the girls team of Maddy Jourgensen, Eryn Leonard, Nike Cleverly, Bailey Hellander and Sassy Murray will look to avenge a second-place finish at the regional meet.
“At the beginning of the year, we felt like we had a strong group of boys returning, and we figured we could have a successful season,” he said. “The guys were pretty motivated over summer. I said, ‘Guys, this is our year to win the regional title.’”
And the team did just that Oct. 24 in Aspen, winning the regional meet with Zirkle claiming the first spot overall.
The girls side was filled with question marks, however, to start the season.
“We had two returning girls who had been successful and had been in the program,” Trapp said. “We had some young girls coming up, and to begin the season, I thought this would be a team fighting to qualify for state. But they have exceeded my expectations and become a very good team.”
The group improved every time it ran, Trapp said.
“For our girls to have that chance to win the regional title was very surprising after seeing where we started,” he said. “They just improved a ton over the course of the season. They trained smart, and they trained hard and built on their success.”
Trapp said his desire to coach came from positive experiences he had in his track and cross-country career.
“Growing up, I ran cross-country,” he said. “From seventh- and eighth-grade through high school, I had such good times as a runner. I found success and had great coaches.”
But when his collegiate track career ended, Trapp said he wanted to stay involved.
“It was my life — I just had so many opportunities and good experiences that it made me want to become a coach to hopefully give kids those same opportunities,” he said. “It was just the love of cross-country, track and competition. When I graduated from college and was done running, I wanted to continue to be around it.”
Coaching was Trapp’s ticket to remain involved in cross-country.
For the past five years, Trapp has been the head coach of the cross-country team.
“My first three years, I was an assistant coach, then I was able to step in and take over teams that have already been established,” he said. “It’s been good.”
Trapp said that while Moffat County doesn’t appear to be a running destination, looks can be deceiving.
“Craig has always had a successful cross-country team,” he said. “Before I was here, there were some great coaches, and we’ve been able to continue that success.”
One of the hardest parts of being a coach is balancing the runners’ workloads while ensuring they are fresh for the state meet.
“It can be tough at times to get the kids running the best you can at the end of the season,” he said. “You want to train at a high level, but you don’t want to overdo it.”
The easiest part, and the part that keeps Trapp excited to coach, always will be the progression his athletes show.
“Cross-country is so much fun, such a unique group that bond and work together,” he said. “There’s so much positive. You see the kids building positive relationships with eachother, becoming one big unit and working together.”