CEDAR RAPIDS — Just weeks after the state track and field meet last spring, the Cedar Rapids Kennedy girls’ track team found out it would head into preparations for this season without a coach.
Earlier this month, the girls found out who that coach would be — Duane Wampole.
Wampole has been an active part of the Cedar Rapids Track Club for seven years and most recently served as manager of the club along with the head coach. He has actively worked with several of the girls on the track and field team through the club and through preseason conditioning clinics.
Kennedy senior Tianna Drahn has been conditioning since early December and has worked with Wampole multiple times.
She’s excited to start with Wampole for her final year.
“I think we’ll have more structure to everything and it’ll make us better,” Drahn said. “We’ll finally have direction in our lives.”
She is motivated by Wampole’s excitement about the sport. She feels she is supported by Wampole, even in the preseason.
“He’s always so excited,” she said. “The few times he’s already talked to us he’s been so happy and it’s so different.”
Drahn has qualified for the state track and field meet all three years, and the Drake Relays for two years. She aims to seal the deal with a fourth and final appearance at state.
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“I want to make it to Drake and make it to state,” Drahn said. “All four years for state, but I’ll have to go for three for Drake.”
Drahn has been preparing for the season beside many returning athletes from the 2015 team. She’s been working out consistently to prepare herself for when the season rolls around.
“A whole bunch of preseason stuff,” she said. “We’ve never done this before and it’s awesome. We’re going to be ready to get rolling and it’s going to give us a leg up on trying to get to Drake.”
Senior Meredith Lloyd also is excited about heading into her fourth and final year of track. She is confident in her team’s potential.
“As a team we definitely need to make it higher ranked at meets, and we need more people at state,” she said. “If we push ourselves harder this year, we can do it. Definitely with this new coach, it’s possible to go.”
Lloyd has been attending preseason workouts and participating in team bonding activities.
“As a team we’ve been having workouts with college coaches since December and working with coach Pak in his after-school training sessions. We’ve also been lifting,” Lloyd said.
She is motivated by Wampole’s excitement and feels a boost of confidence for the team, even as early as two months before the season begins.
“He believes in us,” Lloyd said.
Sophomore Cassidy Johnston is preparing for her second year on the team. She foresees change from her previous year with Wampole’s leadership.
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“I think we all have individual talents and we all strive in different ways, but this year I think it’s going to be different,” Johnston said. “We’re going to come together as a team, work as a team and bond as a team.”
Johnston has been conditioning with several of her teammates in preparation for the season and is ready to make changes in her habits in order to improve.
“Last year I felt like I didn’t really give it my all, and that I have more potential than I was showing last year,” she said. “I feel like the workouts with the team and also training a little bit on the side before the season starts will help in general.”
Johnston is excited for the team’s first season with Wampole. She thinks a new viewpoint and a clean slate will motivate the team.
“Right off the bat he was inspiring,” Johnston said. “He believes in our individual success and our overall team success.”
Johnston believes that Wampole will bond the team while promoting athletic success through good habits.
“Come to practice, stay at practice ... Self discipline. You have to strive for greatness,” Johnston said. “You have to compete with yourself first. Your biggest enemy is yourself.”