Top runner Theo Goff raises the bar for Oak Ridge cross country
SHENANDOAH, Texas — Oak Ridge High School’s cross country runner Theo Goff led his team to a big season as he helped get them to the state championship as a team for the first time.
Goff was a top competitor this season placing fourth at the 16-6A district meet, fifth at the regional championship and 25th at the 6A State Championship. He also qualified to run in the Nike Cross Nationals. With a big season for the junior athlete, Mile Split took notice of him and put him in the running for the Cross Country Male Performer of the Year.
Staying within the top group of runners was a big accomplishment for Goff, but he faced some trouble at the state meet when he fell a couple of times along the trail. Despite the disappointment of not finishing how he wanted, he still knew he had other races to think about.
“I definitely knew that the race is never over until you cross the line, so even though I fell down I didn’t give up and I just kept going,” Goff said. “It turned out to pay off pretty well in the end, and I did what was best for my team.”
Qualifying to run in the Nike Cross Nationals as a junior was a huge accomplishment for Goff. He said most runners strive for this their last year of high school, and for him to do this with a whole year left to go back again was very gratifying.
“The best part is definitely the feeling after you’re done putting all the hard work in, and you have that feeling of accomplishment right after it,” Goff said. “Since it’s a team sport, you get to share that feeling with your teammates, and it’s just a really good feeling.”
Goff attributes much of his success to Oak Ridge’s boys cross country head coach, Dennis Muehlstein and said he’s one of the best coaches he’s ever known.
“The way he teaches, he’s very understanding,” Goff said. “He’s not as much of a yelling coach, but if I do bad I’m not worried about him yelling at me. I’m worried about me letting him down and letting the team down. He just makes you want to enjoy the race.”
Muehlstein is proud of Goff’s accomplishments and his ability to raise the bar of Oak Ridge’s cross country program, but he especially looks forward to another year with the young athlete and hopes for him to step up as a role model for the team.
“The guys can currently look to him during races for inspiration and motivation, but if he could become a more well rounded leader off the course that would tremendously, positively effect the team and could raise the bar for everyone else in the program,” Muehlstein said. “If every other athlete had a question about what is the right thing to do in a situation could think, ‘What would Theo do?’ then that would be the greatest accomplishment of any athlete I have coached.”