WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg boys’ track and field team is feeling quite enthusiastic about the outdoor season.
With plenty of returning state-tested talent, Coach Matt Matthes is feeling pretty optimistic.
“The ultimate goal of the season is always to have a successful state meet in Des Moines, where each individual and relay performs it’s best,” Matthes said. “We have a good nucleus coming back this year that competed at the state meet last year and we want to build upon that this season.”
Only one state-meet participant graduated last year. The returners are:
l 3,200-meter relay — Senior Treyton Deitrick, junior Nick Rotter and junior Drake Powell.
l 800 and 400 relays — Senior Mathyan Powell, senior Jacob Allen, senior Gage Hazen-Fabor and junior Kaden Wetjen.
l 100- and 200-meter dash — Hazen-Fabor.
This year’s senior class consists of eight athletes — sprinters Powell, Hazen-Fabor, Allen and Max Niemann, middle/long-distance runner Deitrick, and throwers Clayton Thurm, Jack Degen and Drew Cooke.
“I feel great about the eight seniors that we have because they match up well with the strong junior class,” Matthes said. “The senior class has a good combination of throwers, sprinters and distance runners that give our team a good foundation for a successful squad.”
Six of the eight seniors are members of the teams fastest and likely state-bound events.
In total, the Raiders have 31 student-athletes out this season, and finding who works best where and when is a tall order to fill. Matthes believes it’s best done through trial and error.
“It is always a process trying to find the best lineup that gives athletes enough recovery time between events but also makes the team the most successful,” Matthes said. “There is a lot of trial and error along the way while creating lineups, but in the end, you find what works best your team and go from there.”
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This method has worked in finding many diamonds in the rough. For instance, former sprinters have turned into middle-distance runners. This is the case for all returning state 3,200 relay members.
It doesn’t just start and end with making lineups, however.
Matthes and the other like-minded coaches pride themselves in keeping the athletes prepared physically and mentally whether it’s right up until the race or weeks in advance.
“I think it’s a combination of challenging workouts and creating a team-first culture,” Matthes said. “When they are successful in practice and trust their training, it is easy to visualize and perform their event. Getting the athletes to believe in the team’s success over their own is a critical component of any coach as well.”
These coaches love their inspirational messages, videos and speeches, as many of their athletes can attest. But when you have been doing it as long as they have, and with success, you tend to shy away from second-guessing.