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FEATURED PROGRAM: Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines, Iowa

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

It's time to give credit where credit it due.

Coaching Distance periodically shines the spotlight on an exceptional high school distance programs. This week's featured team is the Boy's Distance Squad at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.





  • Boys Head Cross Country Coach

  • Boys Distance Coach in Track & Field


Coach Ives has coached at Dowling Catholic HS for 15 seasons. Prior to coaching at Dowling Catholic, Coach Ives was a part-time assistant coach at Drake University for a season.

After replacing Frank Schweizer (grandfather to Olympian Karissa Schweizer) in 2007, Ives has the distinction of being just the second Boy's Cross Country coach in Dowling Catholic history.

As for Ives' favorite aspect of coaching, he replied, "I was uncertain how I would relate to teenagers when I first started coaching at the high school level, but I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it is to have the company of these young men. I have always run alongside my runners during practices, so I never lack for training partners. It really is one of the highlights of my days to spend time with our student-athletes, while at the same time getting in some miles of my own."



Dowling Catholic competes in Iowa's largest division, Class 4A.

  • 9x State Cross Country titles, including 7 out of the last 11 State Championships

  • The only Iowa boys program to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals (2012)



The 2021 Cross Country season included a legendary battle with Sioux City North at the Iowa State Cross Country Championships.

Ives wrote: "We entered the 2021 season with a very deep and talented group of runners. In most other years we would have expected a far easier path to winning state, but the best team in Iowa for most of the season was Sioux City North High School (defending 2020 state champions). We faced them 3 times during the regular season and lost to them all 3 times, including at the Roy Griak Invitational where our teams finished 1st and 2nd. Thankfully for us we found a way to beat them at our state meet by 6 points. Leading the way for us that day was individual champion, Jackson Heidesch, who ran 15:24 for a 6-second victory.



  • Runner-up at the state meet, the program’s highest ever finish.

  • The big highlight from our distance squad at state was having the 1st and 3rd place finishers in the 3200 Meters. Sophomore Jackson Heidesch won in 9:18 followed by teammate Will Ryan in 3rd in 9:25.

  • Our team also celebrated champions in the 100, 200, and 100 hurdles.



Coach Ives provided to following information on how he constructs training during the Cross Country season.

  • We follow a Monday-Saturday practice schedule with Sundays off.

  • Our freshmen might peak during the season between 25-30 mpw, our 2nd/3rd year runners at 40 mpw, and our 3rd/4th year varsity guys at 60 mpw with a few exceptions.

  • Workouts take place on Mondays and Thursdays with a longer run on Saturdays.

  • I always include a variety of workouts, but among our favorites are cruise intervals, steady state runs, and progression runs. I’m starting to include longer hill repeats this track season, which will likely find its way into cross country training.


Like many successful programs, there's not a lot of differences between Cross Country and Track and Field Distance training.

Coach Ives responded, "Our weekly schedule for track is very similar to cross country, but our workouts look a little different. Long hill repeats (i.e. 400 meters), fartleks, and reps on the track between 200-400m is quite common.

I’ve also started incorporating diagonals on the soccer field like the Kenyans do. You basically perform a figure 8 pattern where you stride the diagonal sections through center field and slowly jog the shorter straights behind the goals. So far we’ve done up to 2 sets of 1-mile diagonals with a 5+ minute jog recovery between sets."



Ives: "I like 1k repeats of all varieties. They’re long enough to make demands on the aerobic system, yet short enough to stack a bunch of them together in intervals.

One can’t go wrong with a classic 5x1k at 5k pace workout, but in our program it’s more common to perform 1k’s (or 1-mile repeats) as cruise intervals (tempo pace or slightly faster) with active 200-meter jog recoveries. Another variation is to cut-down from tempo pace + 60 seconds, down to tempo pace, and down again to 5k pace with 200-400 meter jog recoveries."


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