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Coach balances cross-country, medical practice

Staff writer

At first glance, it is easy to tell Kodi Panzer is a runner. She has the build and gait of someone who has logged thousands of miles on open roads.

Directing her runners at Hillsboro high school, she looks right at home as the new cross-country coach.

When not coaching, she works full-time as a chiropractor in Hillsboro. Having medical knowledge helps when injuries arise, but Panzer tries to keep the two separate

“I can tell when it’s something more serious, vs. a little out of shape, achy pain,” she said. “I’ll say maybe they should just take it easy.”

Panzer heard about the position following an appointment, when one of her runner’s parents mentioned a coaching vacancy.

The schedule adjustment was smooth because Panzer could leave an hour early for practice.

To avoid cutting too many hours, a doctor from Abilene started helping part-time. The transition gives Panzer enough flexibility that she’s thinking about adding a few work hours next year.

“I’ll probably just run with the kids and then go back to work for an hour-and-a-half,” Panzer said. “It’s short and I love doing both, so it’s not a big deal.”

Still, it was odd seeing his doctor at practice, runner Caleb Diener said.

“It was weird seeing my chiropractor as a coach because I had her as a chiropractor first,” said.

In the case of Tucker Moss, he tried to use his appointment to find out about the coming season.

“I’ve had her do my physical for school the last couple years,” he said. “Now that she’s my coach, it’s a little different. I kept asking her questions about what this year was going to be like.”

Panzer’s goals are already changing, she said.

“They’re just doing so well,” she said. “They’re already hitting the goals we set for midseason.”

One of the workouts that helped the team progress so quickly was a circuit drill, Panzer said. The workout consists of six sets of stair climbs on the bleachers, immediately followed by a 1,200-meter run.

“The kids who want to do better, they know it’s beneficial,” she said. “Then there are the kids who know it’s beneficial, but they still complain. I would probably do the same.”

Runner Tristan Reed reinforced the belief that the team was exceeding expectations.

“We’re already where we were last year, if not past it,” he said.

While the individual expectations are changing, Panzer’s hope for the end of the season is the same.

“I’d love to have a team at state,” she said. “The boys would be where we’d do that because we only have three girls and you need five.”

She began running track in high school, but didn’t take an interest in road racing until 2006. Panzer progressed from 5Ks to half marathons, and eventually made it to races of 50 miles or more.

Her aspiration is to complete the Barkley Marathons. Finishing the race is a major achievement, but it is not the typical large-scale marathon.

Barkley is a 100-mile ultra marathon in Tennessee that has to be finished in 60 hours. Out of 1,000 runners in the 32-year history, 18 have completed the race.

The race is surrounded by mystery and uses license plates as invitations for entry, Panzer said.

“I would love to figure out how to get into that race,” she said. “They even had elite athletes try to finish it and they didn’t.”

Last modified Sept. 20, 2018

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