The sport of track-and-field is all about the numbers. Times, distances and turnouts all affect a team’s performance when trying to score points.
But, for Hood River Valley coach Shawn Meyle, that’s the beauty of the 2003 track season. The Eagles don’t have to worry about points until the May 23-24 district competition.
Because no dual meet scores will be kept in the Intermountain Conference this year, all Meyle’s team has to worry about between now and districts is self-improvement.
“Our season goal right now is to work hard right up to the district meet,” Meyle said. “We just want to get good marks and keep improving, instead of worrying about winning dual meets. That takes some of the pressure off.”
While dual meets can provide a team with a barometer heading into a district competition, the only thing Meyle wants his athletes to worry about this year is the goals they have set for themselves.
“We’re going to use the meets to train,” he said. “If every one of the 63 kids out for the team improves continuously between now and season’s end, there’s no reason we shouldn’t peak at district. I’ve seen it happen before.”
Meyle and his coaching staff — John Vann, Caleb Sperry, Tom Moline and Troy Tactay — have chosen to focus on PR’s, not points, in 2003. At least during the regular season.
Come district, that’s when the Eagles can begin to think about things like “winning” and “state.”
A few athletes, like junior Anna Hidle and senior Christy Paul, already have their sights set on state since they both qualified in 2002. Paul cruised to two top 10 finishes in the 1,600 and 3,000 meters, while Hidle ran wild in the 400 meters and soared in the high jump.
Meyle believes a few others will join them at state this year, but he knows that the IMC will offer no easy bids.
“We have some kids that could really surprise this year,” he said. “But all the IMC teams have their studs. We’ve seen teams like Hermiston, Pendleton and Mountain View before. They’re for real.”
Meyle hopes to see big things from returning varsity athletes such as Nigel Bond (discus, shot put), Ben Albright (sprints), Adam Brown (sprints), Alex Jimenez (distance running), Emily Meyer (sprints) and Allison Byers (distance running).
The Eagles also hope to benefit from a strong freshman class (12 boys and 12 girls), and senior leadership from Jon Gehrig, Mitchell Bohn and Rob Chrisman.
“One of the hardest things over the years has been to maintain numbers,” Meyle said. “But I’m confident that most of the kids who have come out this year will stick with it.”
Junior football standout Zach Royall hopes to give the Eagle boys a boost in the throws, while his sophomore counterpart Dominic Buttaccio also hopes to have a breakout year in the sprint events.
Sophomore Adam Mack will look to take the next step in the 400 and 800 meters, while newcomer Matt Coerper has shown strong early signs in the high jump.
For the girls, sophomore sprinter/jumper Kristen Hedges will join junior sprinter Suni Davis and freshmen distance runners Brisa Jessup, Janne Lucas and Jenna Fisher on a revamped roster.