Zhao (not “Ben,” “Mr. Zhao” or “Coach Zhao” just “Zhao”). Zhao rhymes with "Dow". Zhao brings his love of running, life experiences, extraordinary commitment, and holistic coaching philosophy to the team. Zhao has built a program that rivals most colleges. In addition to Zhao, there are 5 additional coaches working with the team in this current season. Most of these coaches all have college level running experience. More importantly, they all live the simplified runner/athlete lifestyle and participate in local to national competition in their age division.
Not only does our coaching staff go to annual national conferences and workshops of the highest level ( in most endurance sports and all Olympic track events, not just running), they constantly seek self improvement and balance in all areas of their lives...
I started coaching and teaching relatively late in life. After much life experience, I gained a healthy perspective of how to survive in this dysfunctional system. I started coaching at SW in 1989 spring track. Been in charge of track and CC since then. After 21 years, I have stepped down from the head coach of boys and girls track after spring of 2010. However, will continue to direct the distance program all year round as long as I am able.
I started out as a soccer fanatic and weekend sprinter in my early years. I was a 100 meter specialist until I went to U of M. I had a few years of 60+ miles per week in my twenties but still considered myself as a middle distance runner. I am passionate about all track events but distance training with nature is the core of my soul.
My running philosophy evolved from the influence of my college buddy, Joe Sicora and his mentor, Hall of Famer, Rick Kleyman of Armstrong. Eastern philosophies and my boy scout years also played a huge part. Finally, my love of art/design/creativity/knowledge helps round out my view on life and fitness.
I like to think that I try my very best to be the best role model possible for the younger generations. I always come up short but I will keep improving and trying- like any champions would. I strive to balance between passion, hard work and compassion. Almost an impossible task.
I don't care about winning (it's always the process, not the destination) but I will not be out hustled or out worked by anybody. I have gone the distance when it comes to gaining new knowledge or experience about any types of training or competition. I don't want to list my credentials or personal or team "accomplishment". (And I don't want anyone ever list any of my "accomplishment" after I am gone.) If you have done your homework like I do, you might or should appreciate my commitment to kids and to our way of life. If we are on the same or parallel journey, we will have mutual respect and admiration without credentials. And if we are not, why compare apples with oranges?
Carl Henderson , Co-Coach
I graduated from Southwest in 2003. At Southwest I did cross country, track, ultimate frisbee, and some basketball. In high school I was a sprinter/jumper with my events primarily being the 200, 400, long jump, and triple jump. I had aspirations of being a decathlete in college but chose to do ultimate instead. After graduating from Southwest I attended the U of M where I received a degree in civil engineering and played ultimate. Sometime during college I switched from being a sprinter to a distance runner and continue to run as much as my body will allow. Besides running I enjoy playing almost any sport including volleyball, golf, mountain biking, basketball…the list could go on and on. I started coaching almost as soon as I graduated from Southwest, so I haven’t really ever left. I value hard work, dedication, and those with a desire to improve in all aspects of life, not just running.
Jaime Yaeck- Jaime joined us last season and due to work commitments she was with us part time. But we just loved her so much when she was here and also when she coached during track season, so we asked if she is willing to increase to full time during CC season. We are just so lucky that she is willing to arrange her work schedule to accommodate us.
I grew up 40 miles west of Minneapolis in a town of 300 people; Hamburg, Minnesota. I'm no stranger to farm work. In high school, I was a mid distance sprinter. I ran track in the spring and was on the competition cheerleading squad for the fall/winter season. Distance running came to me in college in a recreational form. A way to blow off steam. It was a slow start but I ran my first marathon a week shy of my 22nd birthday. I have now completed 22 full marathons, 3 of them have been in a hotdog costume!
By day, I am a hairstylist. I love fashion, performing arts, yoga, the outdoors, good food, cooking and learning new things. I have lived above Trader Joe's in the Excelsior and Grand neighborhood since 2006.
Russ ran cross country and track at Mpls Central high School in the 60’s coached by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hoisington and Earl Bowman. He started out doing the short sprints, then the 400, and finally the 800 senior year; as the sprint area was dominated by naturally gifted sprinters. During his twenty’s and thirty’s he played around in all comer meets doing sprints and long and triple jump. On reaching forty he tried Masters competition and jumped all the way to a World Meet in Eugene, Or. Since then he has had the opportunity to travel to Finland, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, and several US destinations-where paying your own way gets you into the meet.
His passion is helping youth find and develop their gifts and talents and see their potential. For around thirteen years he has volunteer coached summer track at Hospitality House Youth Directions. He also was asked to help coach hurdles and jumps at Washburn and then was asked to help coach sprints at Southwest; spending two years at Washburn and five at Southwest.
His key mantras for track are: you can always get faster (whether a sprinter or not). And Elite distance runners use modified sprint form! Only being mediocre in competition he has learned to love studying the track events and applying them to himself and others. Enjoy all the benefits of running and track and field and becoming a true athlete, which can last a lifetime!
Koby Jeschkeit- Hagen – ( from the last two years; will only help us very part time this season.) Koby is our own alum from ’02 She started out as a sprinter ( just like Carl and I ). Anchored our glory 4 x 800 state level teams and went to state in the 3200 as a senior. She is still the most efficient and beautiful runner we ever had. Koby coached for Edina before but with my arm twisting, she agreed to come back to nurture our girls. Koby is a full time urban farmer with a master degree in farming.
Jamie Cheever, our 05 alum and professional runner will help us for a few weeks before she started her master degree at the U. Jamie was inducted into the SW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015. She was in the Olympic Trials in the 3000 meter Steeple Chase in 2016.
EQUIPMENT & TRAINING
To support our athletes we have on-site VO2 and lactate testing equipment, world class treadmills (3:30 mile pace) and all sorts of cross training and recovery machines. In addition, most of our fitness and state class athletes also benefit from our on-site swimming pool. On the mental training side, we have invested heavily into all sorts of biofeedback machines to teach relaxation and focus techniques.
Training information from the coaching staff.