HR Pod: Seth Norder, Nolan Clark, Will Hewitt

Photo by Miles Postema.
  • Seth Norder (front) and Nolan Clark (Bib 4) are two of the fastest high school runners in Michigan.

Seth Norder, Nolan Clark and Will Hewitt joined me in conversation for Episode 32. Seth and Nolan represent Grand Haven High School in Michigan and are two of the fastest runners in the state. They had incredible performances at the Division 1 state track meet on June 4 in Rockford, Michigan. Seth finished second in the 1600 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 7.99 seconds (4:07.99). Nolan finished fourth in the 3200 meters with a time of 9:08.74. They were also part of the Grand Haven 4×800 relay team that broke the school record at the state meet — the first Grand Haven 4×8 team to go under eight minutes. Seth and Nolan talk about the state meet in detail, their high school careers so far, team culture, summer miles and goals for 2022 cross country. I then welcomed Will on the pod to get a coaching perspective. Will is one of Seth and Nolan’s coaches, and he shares thoughts on Grand Haven running and what it’s like to coach two of the best high school runners in Michigan.

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HR Pod: London Marathon 2017 Recap + World Relays Men’s 4×800 with Will Hewitt

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The USA men’s 4×800-meter relay team won gold at the 2017 IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

James Rogers elaborates on Suguru Osako’s Boston Marathon third-place finish; Mary Keitany and Tirunesh Dibaba torch the London Marathon course; Daniel Wanjiru holds off Kenenisa Bekele for men’s title in London; Laura Thweatt becomes seventh-fastest American woman marathoner; James brings on Will Hewitt to discuss the men’s 4×800-meter relay from the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

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No. 86 [Runners]

Photo by James Rogers

“From my understanding, ‘tunas’ are little inside jokes that have happened on runs and at races. We say tuna when we do butterfly stretches. The captains will go, ‘Tu!’ and then everybody else will say, ‘Na!’ Basically, we have a bunch of those. … We had this tuna we made one day—it wasn’t super drastic. We were running out that way, toward 160th, I think. And Michael Perry, a kid who was a senior last year, was running, and there’s like a plastic caution stick next to a fire hydrant. He tried to jump over it, and he landed on it and broke it off, in half. He was standing there holding it, and everyone ran past him and was like, ‘Oh my gosh! What have you done?’ And later that day, we had a tuna. The captains yelled ‘Perry!’ and then everyone else yelled ‘Stick!’ for ‘Perry Stick.’ That’s the best part, because anybody else who hears that is like, ‘What on earth does that mean?’ … A tuna is something that happens, like an inside joke that we talk about only when we’re doing butterfly stretches.”

[Note: Tunas go back a long way—possibly to the early 2000s—in Grand Haven XC history. Will Hewitt, GH’s assistant coach and a former GH runner, contributed to this quote.]

In the Shoes of an Assistant Coach

By Will Hewitt

I grew up a coach’s son, and ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be one when my playing days were over.

I have been an assistant cross-country coach for two years now at two different high schools. I’ve learned so much from each of the head coaches I have worked with and from my runners.

It is such a different experience from the coaching perspective. As the assistant coach, my primary responsibility is talking one-on-one with the runners and gauging how they are doing.

I really enjoy catering workouts to each specific runner’s needs and watching them improve over the course of a season. Nothing beats seeing a runner get his or her first big PR.

Hewitt is in his second year of coaching at Grand Haven High School.
Photo by Will Hewitt

In cross-country, victories can be found throughout the roster. This year, one of our runners dropped from 35:00 to 30:00 in subsequent races. A five-minute PR! He is aiming for 28 minutes next race.

We have a freshman who has already run a 16:29 and is aiming for the 15s by the end of the season.

Our two captains this year are such exemplary young men, and I’m so proud of the way they have been leading the team. I am excited to see where this season takes us. For the most part, I get to do the teaching, but man, have I learned some things along the way.

Photo by Will Hewitt
Photo by Will Hewitt

I have learned quite a bit over the last two years. Knowing how to run and train is one thing; knowing how to coach is quite another. You want to create a positive atmosphere that cultivates hard work, success and fun.

I have learned that small issues need to be addressed immediately to prevent them from becoming big issues. I have learned that great coaches are cheerleaders.

Just because you know what’s best for runners physically and strategically does not mean they have to respect you. You need to earn their respect by being first and foremost an encourager.

The first thing your runners need to know is that you care for them individually and that you will do everything in your power to help them achieve their goals. Therein lies the reward for a coach: to see your runners grow.

To see someone realize the fruits of hard work, of doing things the right way and of never giving up is an incredible thing to witness.

Will is one of the best leaf-catchers in the Midwest. That is, catching leaves on runs. He loves dogs, too.