Sage Creek’s rapid rise to track success

Sage Creek’s rapid rise to track success
Sage Creek freshman Elizabeth Hattin, left, finishes a drill while head coach Danny Kung, middle, watches his team on March 1. The Bobcats have rapidly become one of the more formidable teams in Division 2 of the CIF San Diego Section. Photo by Steve Puterski.

CARLSBAD — A deep, internal assessment drove Danny Kung to Sage Creek High School.

The physical education chair of the newest school to the city had a great coaching career in his hands. However, there was a new challenge gnawing at him to see how good of a coach he really was.

At first, Sage Creek’s track and field program only consisted on middle distance and distance runners, with Jacob Feiring taking on the role of first head coach in school history.

By year two, however, Kung had left his post at La Jolla High School, and two CIF San Diego Section titles, to start fresh at Sage Creek.

“It was either here or Vista (High School) and I said ‘how good of a coach am I?” Kung said. “Can I go to a program that is literally in its infancy and develop something? It was a huge challenge. La Jolla has a legacy.”

Since Kung and Feiring hooked up, the Bobcats have steadily risen through the Division 2 ranks becoming a force. Over the past two years, the program has sent four athletes to run in college, including Beau Prince (Northern Arizona), Jacob Uhl (Butler), John Walther (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and Megan Mattson (University of California, San Diego).

Kung said those athletes, along with Feiring, set the tone for the program’s success. And what started with less than 50 boys and girls has exploded to 123 this season.

Admittedly, Kung said this season will be more of rebuilding year for the boys with a talent crop of freshmen, including Elizabeth Hatton, coming into the fold. The girls team, meanwhile, will be anchored by the distance runners, who are fresh off winning the cross-country state championship in the fall.

Still, the gradual improvement and becoming one of the top track teams in the county was instilled by personable and relatable coaching techniques paired with a drive to see the athletes succeed, said senior sprinter Parker Blawusch.

“He’s super good with our lifting schedule, which a lot of teams don’t do,” Blawusch said of Kung. “I think that’s why we’ve had quick success, especially with sprints. The workouts the coaches design are just awesome.”

And like every other program in Southern California, rain has dampened workouts and washed out the team’s first meet. The Bobcats’ first meet, though, was in the rain at Mt. Carmel.

Even with those challenges, Kung said the washed-out first meet allowed for an intra-squad meet, which allowed him to gauge the athletes. It showed, he said, both the boys and girls should have strong seasons.

But to get to this point, Kung said it’s the dedication and work ethic, especially in the offseason, and the lack of a football program has led to the program’s rise and respect throughout the county.

“We got great kids here. I’m lucky,” Kung said. “The parents support us and are fantastic. I am fortunate to have been here when the school opened.”

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