Bellaire’s Arno to help coach Team Ohio

BELLAIRE — Chris Arno is a teacher and coach by trade.

However, as it pertains to cross country, the affable Bellaire High School head coach is an architect.

Arno has helped build the Big Reds’ program into one of the Ohio Valley’s most consistent during his 22-year old coaching career. He’ll now get the opportunity to weave his magic on a state level.

Arno was recently chosen to serve on the coaching staff of Team Ohio for the Mid-East Meet of Champions next weekend. After serving as an assistant coach this year, he will ascend to the head-coaching position with the boys team for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

“It’s exciting, humbling and overwhelming all at the same time,” Arno said of the selection.

Chosen through the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches, Arno will be part of the staff at the meet, which is slated for Kettering, Ohio in suburban Dayton next Saturday. He will report to Kettering on Friday, meet his athletes, fellow coaches and take part in some team activities and meal.

The meet consists of all-star teams from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. According to Arno, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky have also taken part at different times over the years. Each state sends 12 runners, all of whom are seniors.

“I was nominated at the OATCCC meeting and then approached, there was a recommendation and it was then voted on,” Arno said. “I was overwhelmed when I found out I had been selected To garner the respect of the long-time coaches is flattering. There are guys involved in this who have been around long before I even started (coaching).”

Arno has turned the Big Reds into a perennial power in long-distance running. He’s guided his teams to 14 OVAC titles, including eight with the girls. He’s won a regional title in 2004 with the girls and finished second twice. All told, he’s guided 10 girls teams to the second level of competition. He’s taken six teams to the state meet and owns two boys’ regional runner-up trophies.

“I look at these individual (coaching) honors as a tribute to our entire program, all of the kids we’ve had and all of the coaches who have worked with me over the years,” Arno said. “It’s nice that our program has developed some state-wide recognition over the years, too.”

Though he’s never coached the meet before, Arno has attended a Mid-East Meet, so he’s not totally blind to what will transpire this coming weekend. In 2005, Katie Antonik, who was a two-time all-Ohioan in CC, was chosen to participate.

“Katie is the only person we’ve had chosen and I went down to watch her run,” Arno said. “I think Ohio’s girls won by one point that year.”

Along with his meet duties, in the weeks leading up to the meet, Arno and the coaches must “recruit” senior runners to participate in the meet.

“The goal is to spread it out between the three divisions, but we are also trying to get the best seniors,” Arno said.

Arno also plans to use the experience to benefit his own team by picking the brains of the other staff members and even the athletes.

“Obviously, there are going to be a lot of talented kids and coaches around, so why not pick their brains?” Arno said.

On top of cross country, Arno also serves on the Big Reds’ track and field staff.