A Behind the Scenes Look at CdM’s Running Program


Claire Qiu, Journalist

2019’s cross country season began and ended quietly, despite the many successes of both the girls’ and boys’ teams at various invitationals and CIF Prelims and Finals. With 2020’s track and field season just around the corner, coaches Bill Sumner and Mike Salzman have a lot to look forward to, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do.

Coach Sumner has been coaching for forty years, thirty five of those being at CdM. He has made a big name for himself, in both the world of running and the world of coaching, and was recently awarded the prestigious Pat Summit Coaching Award. “I could coach any sport just to be around young athletes,” Sumner says of coaching. “That’s where the pleasure comes from. But running track or cross [country] allows more athletes on the field at the same time.” Sumner is known for being frank, straight, and honest, and cuts an intimidating figure in running gear, a shock of white hair, and his signature sunglasses. “When I first met Coach, I was terrified of him,” senior Maya Buchwald remembers with a laugh. Buchwald has been running for Sumner for four years and is currently the girls’ cross country team’s top runner. But beneath the sunglasses and questionably funny jokes, often made at someone else’s expense, is a coach that “really truly cares … he would bend over backwards trying to help someone, anyone,” his assistant coach and friend of thirty years Mike Salzman says. Salzman is Sumner’s “go make it happen” guy: always carrying a clipboard with paperwork, and always available at all hours to answer Sumner’s calls, questions, and take care of things on the admin side. “You would not believe the five a.m. calls I have gotten from Coach before,” Salzman says with a rueful shudder.

The program that Sumner has built, with the help of Salzman and others, while certainly not by any means widely known throughout the school, but is loved by all runners. “I like running … at the risk of sounding cliche, it’s basically a family you get to visit every time you go to school,” senior and boys’ team captain Austin Leehealey says. The teams are currently deep into pre-season training for the track and field season, which includes grueling speed workouts over all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather, and often takes place early in the morning on weekends.

The coaches are looking forward to the upcoming season, and have high hopes for all their athletes. Stay tuned for articles and results throughout the season!