Helgerman excited to pilot Johnstown
Patrick Helgerman finally gets to spend the fall as a head coach, as he guides the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys and girls cross country teams in the coming weeks.
Helgerman replaces Eric Hamner, who led the program for four seasons and took the girls team to state three times.
"Patrick has many years of experience around running both personal and professionally," athletics director Nick McIlwaine said. "To be able to get someone with his experience is an absolute blessing. He is a very personable individual who will fit in well in our coaching ranks and in the community."
Helgerman was an assistant the past six seasons at Licking Heights under longtime coach Suzie Ketcham. He graduated from Mars (Pa.) High School, just north of Pittsburgh, as well as Ohio State.
"I work as a systems analyst for NetJets as well as being a pilot in the National Guard," Helgerman said. "When I could finally work it out to where I could coach, I talked to Suzie Ketcham, and got on at Licking Heights. I saw the job opening in July at Johnstown and knew that would be a good opportunity."
Running always has been a passion for Helgerman.
"I ran seven years of cross country and track in middle school and high school and it was one of the best times of my life," he said.
"I really love cross country with the leaves turning and the smell in the air. I call it 'cross country smell.' I love being out there and being a part of it."
The Johnnies lost their top two girls runners from a year ago to graduation in Stephanie Loshbough and Meghan Schulze. Loshbough finished ninth (18 minutes, 39.75 seconds) in last year's Division II state meet at National Trail Raceway. Schulze was 33rd (19:39.9).
"The biggest challenge has been that my first practice was (Aug. 6) and it was also the first time I met most of the kids," Helgerman said. "Most schools have had three-plus weeks of conditioning and we have had none of that. The biggest challenge will be getting in shape. Everyone has run a little, but not as much as we could have run."
Co-coaches will lead Vikings squad
Northridge will have two cross country coaches this fall.
Gene Weil, who coached the boys and girls track and field teams last spring, will be a co-coach with Chad Elliott.
"They needed some help with the program and I decided to help out," said Elliott, who is a 1985 graduate of Northridge and a fourth-grade teacher in the district. "I'm very excited to do it."
Elliott will coach while Weil is on a previously planned family vacation for much of September and the first week of October.
"I helped with the summer workouts and we started (Aug. 6) with cross country," Weil said. "We start Aug. 22 with our first meet at (the) New Albany (Invitational), so we have to get ready for that."
The two replaced Jennifer Ulery, who led the program for one season.
Athletics director Wayne Howard said the Vikings are lucky to have them working together.
"Coach Weil did a great job for us during track season and coach Elliott has a lot of running experience," Howard said. "It's good to have him helping us out."