In the 12 years since Steve Urban took over at Pomona High School, Pomona has developed into one of the consistently best cross country teams in the state. All across the state, coaches have come to recognize that you're in for a tussle when you come up against Pomona.
Names like Gavin Mason, Marcelo Laguera, Adam Sinda, Ian Harkreader, Vincent Workman, Ernie Franssen, and John May roll off the tongue as top-tier individuals who have gone through the program under Urban's tenure.
Still, it was one of the worst-kept secrets around the state that Urban was hanging on for one more year at Pomona and then would ride quietly into the sunset of the anonymity that leaving coaching brings.
Only it didn't quite work out that way.
Late this spring, Pomona hired on Jack Swartz as an assistant coach for the cross country program. It wasn't long before Urban was convinced that Swartz was the man for the his job, "I feel very comfortable turning this over to him. I will do whatever it takes to help him be successful at Pomona, and stay out of the way. Jack had planned to be my assistant for the year. I could tell instantly that he was head coaching material and didn't need me to hold his hand. He appears to have the background and experience to run a effective 5A program. He's got a great personality that kids can relate to. After three weeks with him in our summer program I knew he was the guy for the job."
So, Jack Swartz, who left his job at Custer County this spring not knowing what his next coaching gig would be, suddenly finds himself at the reins of a powerful 5A program.
But, in the middle of all that, Urban also found out that he wasn't quite ready to be done coaching. He explains, "I had planned to ride into the sunset. Timing, as you know, is everything. The Faith position opened up about the same time Jack Swartz appeared. Faith is the same distance from my house as Pomona, just the opposite direction. The thing that intrigued me was that Faith has a middle school program. When this opportunity presented itself I looked at it as a new challenge. 3A instead of 5A."
This makes Faith the third program for Urban, with a total of almost 30 years of coaching distance runners. He cut his coaching teeth at Thornton, training up Jason O'Shea (who now heads up the Thornton program) and Bradley Harkrader (the 2003 5A state champion) as runners while he was there. Most of his years have been as a head coach, though he did begin his coaching career under Dennis Rademacher at Thornton.
And, he arrives at Faith just in time to welcome in a promising new freshman in Cole Sprout.
Steve Urban's background in running comes differently than most. He did not take up running until 36 years ago, on a bet to run the Bolder Boulder. He's run every Bolder Boulder since then. As a result, he took up running as a serious hobby and once ran 100 races in a single year.
It appears that a whole new set of young men and women at Faith Christian will be hearing Coach Urban's favorite words this fall, "Oh, yes, you can!"
I believe I just heard the unmistakable sound of expectations ratcheting up a notch or two.