There have been tens of thousands of coaches who have never had the pleasure of mentoring a national record-holder. Never knew the joy of watching their star athlete climb to the top of the victory stand in a state competition.
Jonas Koolsbergen at Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
has two. Consider it a reward for being at the same school for 27 years, the last 24 as the head track coach.
Amy Weissenbach is the national record-setter after scorching a 2 minutes, 2.04 seconds for 800 meters in last year's California State Track and Field Championships and Cami Chapus is the other, capturing the state 1,600 in 4:40.88.
Since both return this season, the hopes and expectations are well beyond this solar system.
Both athletes are excited about this upcoming high school season while trying to reign in those same emotions, realizing that when you count in such year-end possibilities as the United States Olympic Trials and the World Junior Championships, it could be more of a marathon than a sprint.
Weissenbach has the biggest target on her back not only because she set that national record and already has the Trials "B" standard, but because of the way she drops time. Some athletes are overjoyed to trim tenths and even hundredths but Weissenbach has a history of shaving seconds.
"Going into the CIF (Southern Section) Division III meet, I wasn't sure what to expect and I was the very last qualifier for the Masters meet — by two-tenths of a second (at 2:17.07)," recalls Weissenbach, who lost 2½ months of training over the winter with an injury.
"In the Masters meet the next week I had a huge PR, by four seconds (running 2:08.61). Even though now I was the favorite to win state, I certainly didn't expect what happened."
Weissenbach got caught up in the emotion of the event and feeling like she was running on air, she clocked a 57-second first lap, which pretty much left the competition positioning itself for the silver medal.
Naturally, she couldn't repeat that time, but by running 65 seconds over the second 400, it was only Weissenbach vs. the clock as the standing-room only crowd at Clovis' Buchanan High knew something special was unfolding before it and tried to carry her over the final 200 meters.
"I was a complete bundle of nerves before the race," admitted Weissenbach. "I expected it would take 2:06 to win but I didn't expect to improve nine seconds over two weeks like that."
Expectations were high she might still crack 2 minutes in summer meets, but Weissenbach said although she qualified and ran in the World Youth Games in Lille, France, where she finished fourth in 2:03.59, she knew she had peaked and was tired.
But there is always this year and, like Chapus, she not only wants to run well, she wants to enjoy her senior year of high school. Both have the attitude that they'll run for fun early and hope to enjoy even more success at the end of the year.
Chapus actually has a mark on her mind that Weissenbach never considered until she did it: Set the national high school record.
"I want to have fun and see how fast I can run," said Chapus, who barely knew Weissenbach when the two came together in the ninth grade and then got to know her better playing on the Harvard-Westlake soccer team. "The national record is in my mind but just improving would be enough. So many things have to be right to get that record (4:33.82). Last year my goal was 4:48 and I didn't even know I'd run 4:40 until I got on the victory stand (30 minutes after the race)."
What Chapus had going for her was a quality 1,600-meter field and one of those runners she beat, Alli Billmeyer, then of Torrey Pines, became fast friends. When the two visited Stanford, they felt comfortable and having Billmeyer there helped them make up their minds to sign with the Cardinal.
Having GPAs like 4.3 (Weissenbach) and 3.7 (Chapus) made it possible.
The two Wolverine runners naturally grew closer and closer, especially when they joined relay teams that included then-seniors Lauren Hansen and Casey Cord to set the national record in the distance medley relay and the No. 1 mark in the sprint medley relay. They learned leadership from the seniors and now are the ones doing the leading. That's in addition to being in the school Chamber Singers choir (Amy) or playing soccer (Cami) or doing their school-required service in the community.
It's in training where they really help each other, with Chapus providing help in distance pace for Weissenbach (who finished third right behind Chapus in the state cross country championships) and Weissenbach boosting Chapus' speed over the second half of her 1,600.
"For both, this is special as all get-out," said Koolsbergen. "They are nice and sweet off the track but when they race, theeir attitude is ‘Bring it.' If you beat them, you'll have to pay the price because both are confident in their ability.
"I believe they are the best-ever duo in high school track on the same team. You can just see the damage they can do together. But we also use them to help others, especially in dual meets, and they never complain."
That said, don't be surprised if the two run only relays, as they did last year, at the Arcadia Invitational and maybe off events a few weeks later at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational. Their season won't really start until late May with the Masters and State Championship meets.
Then the two will know if they'll take that giant leap to the Olympic Trials, which will be held in Eugene, Ore., or if they'll take advantage of having barely turned 18 by June to go to the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
They could do both.
"What a blast, what a thrill if we could be in the Olympic Trials," said Weissenbach. "It was so much fun to go to France last year and to discover what it's like to run four straight days."
Chapus takes a futuristic approach.
"I accomplished a lot last year I never dreamed of, but we'll wait until the end of track season and then decide what to do." she said. "There is so much more traveling and meeting new people ahead — it's all very exciting."