Spartans running in right direction

Spartans running in right direction
Mayo cross country coach Brett Carroll is taking the boys team to the Class AA state meet on Saturday. It€™s the first time since 1991 that a Class AA team from Rochester has qualified for the state meet. More than 100 athletes are out for cross country at Mayo High School.

At one of his first practices running cross country for Rochester Mayo as a junior, Brett Carroll got lost.


"I was trying to keep up with some of the leaders and they were going pretty good and I told them to go on, I would catch up later,'' Carroll said. "Well, I took a wrong turn somewhere and never did find them.''

That was then and this is now. Carroll, who turned 32 last month, now runs (pun intended) the cross country program at Mayo, both boys and girls.

It hasn't been an overnight success story, but it has been a success. The Spartan boys are making the first trip to state for a Rochester Class AA boys or girls team in 20 years. Mayo last did it in 1991, with a second-place finish.


"Who knows what can happen at state,'' said Carroll. "Getting there is a big accomplishment; that's something these kids have talked about for a long time. They were determined; it's a goal they've reached, and nothing can take that away for the rest of their lives.''

Carroll is a Rochester native, and wasn't much at all interested in running until his junior year.

"My main sports were soccer and hockey,'' he said. "The Mayo coach at the time (Joann Johnson) said I should try cross country and then told John Trolander (the Mayo boys coach).

"I do remember going on long trips with my parents and two sisters and after a long stretch of time I couldn't take it anymore and I told them to drop me off and I would run the rest of the way home.

"Maybe it was only for two or three blocks, but you get the idea.''

The running bug was formed. By the end of his junior year, he was running No. 3 and then qualified for state as a senior. In track, he qualified for the state in the 1,600.

Carroll really developed as a runner at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in applied science in the summer of 2003.

He was a 13-time conference individual champ in both cross country and track, set five school records and was part of 11 conference championships and just missed All-America honors by one second as a senior.


And he was captain of both the cross country and track teams.

"I have very good friends from my Duluth days,'' he said, "and some of the guys I ran with and ran against are now coaching like I am, so I see them, too.''

Carroll has always had an interest in coaching. His grandfather — Buzz Carroll — who died a year ago at this time and his father, Bill Carroll also coached while his mother, Jean Marvin, is a teacher.

"They've all been supportive,'' Carroll said. "My grandpa was a baseball and hockey guy, but he came around to liking cross country and track. His funeral was in Northfield and I'm going to remember him a lot this weekend.''

The state meet is at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Long story short, Carroll met his wife Rachel in Duluth and she got a job first at Olmsted Medical Center and now at Mayo Clinic. Carroll followed, and turned a substituting job into a physical education role at Mayo. The Carrolls have two children, daughters Shay (3) and Alyssa (19 months).

He took over both cross county teams in the mid-1990s and now also serves as head girls track coach.

There are 118 athletes out for cross country — 69 boys —which is a school record. In other words, the program is heading in the right direction.


"You have to have leaders and very good assistant coaches,'' Carroll said, "and we do. You can be our No. 1 runner or you can be No. 114, but they are all important.

"One of my biggest thrills as a coach is when a former runner comes back and talks about what success he or she is having. And then they talk about what running in high school has meant for them. Hopefully, you've made some kind of an impact on them.''

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