Casady's Sam Bass is using his cross country experience to help him in track
Sam Bass doesn’t wear a watch anymore when he races.
It’s a common thing many runners do so they can track their times. Bass was accustomed to wearing a watch, but early his freshman season, he stopped.
Bass wanted to improve, and he went to a junior high coach to ask for help. Ben Pitman, who ran collegiately at Tennessee, said he helped teach Bass one of the biggest lessons.
Bass, then at freshman at Casady, wanted to break a five-minute mile. His plan was to run four, 75-second laps. Pitman advised against it, saying he should go out with the leaders and try to keep up. If Bass could manage that, he would break his record.
Pitman noticed every lap that Bass was checking his watch. He finished in 5:02, going against Pitman’s advice. His message following the race was simple.
“Racing is more important than time,” Pitman said. “If you learn to win races, times will follow that.”
High school track is ramping up, and Bass is hoping to bring his distance experience from cross country. Bass was named Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year for Oklahoma in February. Because Casady isn’t an Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association member, he competes for championships in the Southwest Prep Conference.
This season, the SPC Track Championships are in Houston, but Bass has plenty of events on his calendar before then. Along with competing for Casady in the 1600- , 3200- and 4x800-meter races, he also will run as an individual, which takes him to places such as California, Arkansas and Kansas.
“A lot of the individual meets I go to don’t line up with the school meets,” Bass said. “That’s pretty helpful because I want to be there for my teammates.”
Bass said competing as an individual and with Casady has given him the opportunity to go against top-tier competition and improve his performance. His plan this season is to use lessons learned in cross country, like endurance and strength training, to continue his success.
As the season wears on, Bass wants to be a supportive teammate while seeing how much he can improve and what records he and Casady can break.
“I want to do as well as I can for the team at championships,” Bass said. “I would like to break our conferences two-mile record, which is 9:15, and score as many team points as I can.”