Ken James will still teach at Lakeridge but is giving up coaching to watch his son run

Ken James has been the head girls track coach since 1998 and head cross-country coach at Lakeridge since 1998.Ken James has helmed Lakeridge's cross-country and girls cross-country programs during some of its most successful times in school history.

The longtime coach will still teach at Lakeridge but he recently resigned from his coaching duties so that he could watch his youngest son run more frequently at Idaho State University.

“Honestly it was a really difficult decision. Ty has three years of cross-country and four years of track left and this just gave us more of an opportunity to see him race,” James said.

James was a distance runner in high school and college and coached at Milwaukie High School and collegiately at Willamette University until the track job at Lakeridge opened up.

A Lakeridge graduate, James was happy with the opportunity as he routinely commuted back and forth from Lake Oswego Junior High and Willamette, two hours each day for four years.

James' father coached basketball at Lakeridge and James also has experience coaching that sport as an assistant and at the JV level.

He will be entering his 30th year of teaching this fall and took over as the head girls track coach in 1998.

In that time, scores of incredibly talented athletes have gone through both programs and, despite being the smallest 6A school in the state, the cross-country and track teams have always had strong numbers.

A big reason for that is that James has always encouraged athletes who may have been standouts in other sports to try track in the spring.

“In the last 20 years we've seen so much specialization with kids just doing one thing. We tried to convince them that track will make them better at their No. 1 sport. And it was funny, a lot of times these kids that would come to us as freshmen and sophomores would end up thriving and, by the time they were seniors, track was their top sport and what they were going to compete in at college,” James said.

The girls track team has been known for churning out extremely versatile athletes and ones that can perform at an elite level in a variety of events.

One of James' biggest coaching highlights was seeing Lakeridge capture its first track state title in 2013. But he said his biggest joy always came from hearing from former athletes.

“The thing I love the most is when I hear from kids that say that track or cross-country was the best time they had in high school because it's something you can do for a lifetime,” James said.

Both programs have perennially been strong contenders in the Three Rivers League and have been flush with talented athletes.

“I've been really lucky just in the qualify of people we've had. Not only have we had so many talented kids come through but also just kids who are really fun to be around,” James said.

Scott Spear, an assistant on the cross-country team in recent years and the former head coach at West Linn, will take over that team this fall. A new girls track coach has yet to be named.

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