David Gossett made a tough decision leading up to the 2005 cross country season.
He had played soccer and ran cross country last season as a sophomore, spending much of his time training for the long races with short sprints on Skyline High School’s soccer field.
Even with the difficult schedule, Gossett finished fourth in 4A Regionals with a time of 16 minutes, 41 seconds and ninth at the 4A state meet with a time of 16 minutes, 18 seconds. His state meet time was Gossett’s personal best.
Gossett chose to focus solely on cross country his junior year in hopes of improving on last year’s record.
“A lot of people tried to talk me into doing both again,” Gossett said. “I thought dedicating myself to one sport would make me better at it and enable me to continue at it.”
Cross country won out because Gossett believed he stood a better chance to run cross country in college than to play soccer.
Skyline cross country coach Tim Leahy is looking forward to seeing more of the only All-State runner in the Falcons’ history.
“I’m hoping he’ll pull some of the other runners along,” Leahy said. “When you have a kid who’s fast, it gives you that physical leader out front.”
Gossett would like to see the same thing. The state meet was an isolating experience for the surprise runner.
“I think I was the only person in the field wearing yellow,” he said. “I kind of felt secluded and alone. It would be nice to have somebody from my team so people know Skyline’s a good cross country school, not just David Gossett.”
Other runners might not have been looking for Gossett last year, but teams will surely be eyeing him in competitions this year.
“He was kind of an unknown last year,” Leahy said. “He’d be in the field and no one knew he could do much. I told him at the beginning of this season that his days of being an unknown are gone.”
Part of what made Gossett so easy to overlook was his humility. The junior runs with intensity, but he also tries to blend into his surroundings.
This year he will try to work on some techniques that will allow him to blend with the top runners in Colorado.
Always a strong starter, Gossett said he is focusing on slowing down his quick start a little so he has an extra boost for the race’s finish.
“At the beginning of the race,” Gossett said, “I would go pretty fast. I would slow down toward the end of the middle of the race. We’re working on evening out the pace.”
Giving up the soccer sprints for the long, aerobic cross country miles should accustom Gossett’s legs to the distance. Leahy said he doesn’t want Gossett to forgo his strengths, though.
A large part of what allowed Gossett to do so well was his ability to sprint. Leahy wants Gossett to save some of that speed for a burst in the final mile.
Gossett wants to move up the chain, beat more people, win more races. According to Leahy, if Gossett says it’s a goal, it will likely be a reality soon.
“There were a couple times last season when he came up to me and said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Leahy said. “These were his goals, and at first I blew him off, but then he kept hitting his goals.”
That determination earned him respect with his teammates. Several members of the Skyline squad helped Gossett train and cheered him at the state meet.
This year, Gossett will try to lead a few of those people from the bleachers into the field as he continues to lead.
“Having people trying to catch me will only make me run faster,” Gossett said.