A lot to live up to
Eudora track and field coach Phil Katzenmeier has no complaints.
He has a high number of track and field participants, 40 to be exact, for the 2007 season and relatively decent outdoor weather for the athletes to practice in. But most importantly, Katzenmeier said the kids are just having a great time getting back on the track and getting ready for meets to begin.
"We've only been practicing for about two weeks," Katzenmeier said. "The kids are just working hard. I only have positive things to say about them. If we keep them healthy, then they will do very well in meets."
Considering the effort and successes of last season, the Cardinals shouldn't have any problems getting in shape. Last year, the girls team celebrated its best season ever, with a second-place finish at the state track meet. Eudora junior Emily Ballock took the title as the 300-meter hurdle champion. The 1,600 relay team, comprised of Emily, 2006 graduate Megan Ballock, Alisha Wingebach and Brittney Graff, not only took gold at the meet, but also set a state meet record of 4 minutes, .09 seconds.
The boys team also performed admirably during the season, sending Nolan Smith, who set a Cardinal pole vault record, and Cody Burns to the state meet.
But before the track and field team can relive the success of last season, the Cardinals must get through the tumultuous preseason conditioning. Katzenmeier said it was very difficult for the athletes during the conditioning weeks because some have been inactive during the fall and winter.
"We have some training pain right now, and we're putting our bodies through some rigors we're not used to," Katzenmeier said. "We have some strained muscles, but no long-term injuries. But we'll get everybody healthy by the time spring break is done."
Included in the 40 participants is a plethora of veteran track and field athletes, including six seniors.
Katzenmeier said the returning athletes not only brought experience to the team, but something probably more important.
"They just work hard and are good role models, which is what you want -- leaders," Katzenmeier said.
But many of the track and field athletes also have participated in other sports during the school year. Austin Hoover played football and Joey Chino and all-state runner Brittney Graff ran cross county, among many other multi-sport athletes. Katzenmeier said the year-long training only helps the student athletes during the conditioning part of the season.
Katzenmeier said he had some goals for the season. He said although winning a state or regional championship was important, those were not his primary goals.
"I have personal goals for everyone," Katzenmeier said. "I just want all of them to be the best they can be. Track and field has 18 events, and that's a range of possible goals. What we really want them to be is well-conditioned and healthy by May."
Since it still is early in the season, Katzenmeier said he had not set the varsity team yet.
Katzenmeier said considering how hard the athletes are working, it was doubtful he would ever have any complaints during the season.
"I just like watching them compete and having daily contact with them," Katzenmeier said. "They are great kids, and they work very hard. I'm so appreciative of that fact. I like to see them succeed I know they will."
The Eudora track and field team is scheduled to have its first meet at 4 p.m. March 27 at the Snowball Relays in Wellsville. Last season, the girls finished in first and the boys placed sixth at the event.