Miles & Aris Named Inaugural USTFCCCA National High School Cross Country Coaches of the Year
NEW ORLEANS – Bill Miles of Wayzata High School (Minnesota) and Bill Aris of Fayetteville-Manlius High School (New York) were announced Wednesday as the inaugural winners of the National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award for boys and girls teams, respectively, by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
The National High School Coach of the Year selection committee–a national panel–selected Miles and Aris from among the state-level High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award winners announced last week. The awards were based on team and coaching performances from the 2014 season.
Among the factors considered were team performance at league, conference, state, and national championships in the 2014 cross country season. Consideration was also given to margin of victory, degree of improvement, and national rankings.
“It’s an honor to name Bill Miles and Bill Aris as our first-ever National High School Cross Country Coaches of the Year,” USTFCCCA CEO Sam Seemes said. “Coaching high school is so important and so difficult, and these two men are model coaches for cross country coaches at every level.”
Miles’ boys and Aris’ girls both dominated their state championships in November, and turned in stellar performances at Nike Cross Nationals in December. After finishing 15th in Portland a year ago, the Wayzata boys finished second in the nation (behind Aris’ Fayetteville-Manlius squad), while Aris’ girls won their eighth national title in the last nine years.
An outstanding rivalry is brewing between the winners’ two schools. A national title by the Wayzata girls last year is the only thing standing between F-M and nine straight titles, and this year the F-M boys edged out Wayzata in a hotly contested national meet.
In the mode of nearly all great college and prep coaches, it was near-impossible to get them to take any credit for their athletes’ successes.
“The award is quite overwhelming, frankly, and humbling at the same time. It’s only possible because we have great athletes and a tremendous coaching staff,” said Miles, who is retiring after 39 years of coaching at Wayzata. He’s also a retired classroom teacher. “I’m blessed as a high school coach to have a large number of adults coaching with me, and it’s no shock that we’ve started having success as more and more of those guys have come into the program.”
For Miles and his veteran squad—the entire top seven was composed of juniors and seniors, a sure sign of athlete development— this award comes on the heels of their second straight MSHSL 2A state title.
They also won the Nike Heartland Regional. The Trojans compete in one of the toughest distance running states in the country, as the teams at Edina and Stillwater are some of the most nationally acclaimed programs in the United States.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that Fayetteville-Manlius races against some of the best American high school programs at its state meet every year. The Hornet girls just almost never lose to them. Bill Aris’ girls are one of the most dominant teams in American sports—any gender, any level.
“Any award I ever receive as a coach, I always pass on to the kids. The players have to play, no matter what a coach does,” said Aris.
On the heels of his girls’ ninth straight NYSPHSAA state championship and eighth national championship in nine years, the Wall Street Journal called Aris the “Lombardi of Teen Running.”
The Hornets had a different top five at the state, regional, and national championships, winning the latter meet with a mind-boggling twelve-second top-five spread.
“It would have been a four second compression if one of our runners finished in her usual place, and I can’t say that that runner had a bad day,” Aris pointed out, who is also the head coach of the Stotan Racing group based in Syracuse. “This was an average group of girls that had to step up and do above-average things.”
In-depth interviews with Miles and Aris will be posted tomorrow.