BY AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- As co-head coaches Cory Smidt and Jessica Hogan sat in the office at Trojan Field and talked about the Worthington track and field program, one key, they said, was the concept of “team.”
“The kids aren't jealous of other people's success,” Smidt said. “They seem to encourage other people to succeed. We don't have a team that's selfish. It works out great.”
“They push each other in practice, but in a good way,” Hogan said. “So far, this first three weeks, they have really worked hard in practice and did everything we've asked them to do.”
It’s that unselfishness that’s a key for both the boys and girls squads this year. Because of that, the 90 athletes between the two teams have had a good start to the season in advance of the first scheduled meet on Tuesday.
“They want to work hard,” Smidt said. “I haven't heard a complaint yet.”
“They are a really fun group to be around and coach,” Hogan added.
Hogan steps into a co-head coach role after eight years as a middle school coach and two years as an assistant for the varsity teams. This season, Derek Schmitz, Patrick Mahoney, Jeremiah LeTourneau and Bryon Spittle are assistant coaches.
So far, the teams have been able to be outside nearly everyday. This week, they’ve been able to do more on the track.
“It's good for the kids, they get more out of it,” Hogan said. “They get to work on getting better earlier in the season. A lot of times we go to that first meet and we haven't done a lot of things on the track.”
For the boys, depth and a strong group of distance runners will be a key to their success.
“The boys have a lot of depth, which is going to be one of our strengths,” Hogan said. “We have a very good distance group and we also have some sprinters who can score some points.”
The distance group is led by Adam Koller, Christian Lietz, Andrew Huber and Jordan Melendez.
“Those guys have been training all year, they are very self motivated,” Hogan said. “They put in a lot of time.”
Ammanuel Ojha is another runner who will run long and middle distance.
“You can put him anywhere and he is going to run fast,” Smidt said.
Jose Reveles is another middle distance runner, while Eh Kyoo, Robert Street and Alex Luong are top sprinters. Emmett Bicket will be a force in the hurdles.
In the field events, Bryce Olsen, Kalen Brands and Sean Souksavath are expected to score points.
For the girls, Taylor Eggers is one of the top returners after having qualified for state two years ago. And while the girls don’t have the same depth as the boys, they are expecting to have some high finishers in each event.
“We don't have as much depth on the girls side,” Hogan said. “It's definitely way more open as far as who is going to be a consistent performer for us. We have a lot of good kids.”
“We have a lot of hard-working girls,” Smidt said.
The coaches are expecting a lot of points from Brooklyn Scheitel-Taylor, who can do it all on the track. Sena Uli is a distance runner and will lead the 4x400 relay team. Madison Schaefer, Adamari Rangel, Gracie Barber, Madisyn Huisman, Miranda Thier, Kadence Hyvari, Bailey Newman and Jenna Hoffman are also athletes who will have an impact this year.
“We're going to be consistent all the way around for the girls,” Smidt said.
“I think the points will be scattered,” Hogan said. “But I think the distance kids will be able to get a few.”
This season, WHS hosts four home meets, with the highlight being the Trojan Relays on May 14. The Section 2AA meet is on May 29 and 31 at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.
“Our section is pretty tough, but we had some good performances last year, and I think we can place even better this year,” Hogan said.