Lucas Wolthuis, Vicksburg native and champion cross country runner, was named head cross country coach for Gila Ridge High School’s boys and girls teams in 2014. During his first year on the job, he led them to a Division II Arizona schools state championship title. The team had finished outside the top 10 in previous years, but Wolthuis saw three of his runners finish inside that winner’s circle for the first time in school history.
A 2010 Hope College graduate, Wolthuis came back to Vicksburg to kick up his heels for the 2011 Frostbite Run—taking first place in his division—before taking off for the warmer climes of Arizona. He began at Gila Ridge as a volunteer assistant in their cross country and track program in 2012. Wolthuis now heads up the track and field coaching staff as well as boys soccer coach. Gila Ridge is in Yuma, Arizona and enrolls approximately 1,800 students.
Wolthuis says the team’s success “was a matter of getting rid of the idea that you want to run for time. When they start to worry about time instead of place, they think, ‘I’m too fast, I’m too slow.’ But they bought into the idea of running for place and what then, will help the team [the most].”