EARL WATT • Leader & Times
After finishing fourth in the Western Athletic Conference track meet a week earlier, the Lady Redskins won the Class 6A Regional Meet in Garden City in a tight meet. The Lady Redskins won with 85 points. Wichita East was second with 80 points.
“We’ve always had decent girls but not enough to get to the top finish at regional,” Liberal coach Trace Haskell said. “This is one of the best girls teams we’ve had in my time.”
Haskell said they have earned the opportunity to compete at state and garner attention.
“These girls will have a chance to prove they are just as good throughout the state and not just the region,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of good girls teams as an athlete, but as a coach, this is top to bottom a really good team.”
Haskell added that there have been strong individual athletes on some of the girls teams during the past 12 years, but this team performed across the board.
And with the mix of teams at the regional, including Wichita East, that opened the door for Liberal to pass WAC rivals Garden City and Dodge City.
“Having more teams knocked their points down,” he said. “For the last 10 to 12 years we’ve been looking up to Garden and Dodge. They had more numbers. Great Bend is amazingly good, whoever is in a meet with them it will be a struggle to beat them. But you look at the WAC, we were fourth, but not by much. Wichita East moving over helped our girls. They limited Garden and Dodge numbers. Where we might be good with one or two in an event, East coming over helped.”
But the girls still had to perform, and Haskell believed they had one of their best performances at the right time.
“We were thinking top three,” Haskell said. “We overachieved on a few events and claimed the top spot. There were some heartbreaks. Some finished fifth, but such is life. You live and learn. As a group overall, they did a great job. Once we told them they had a chance to win it, you could see in their eyes they wanted it.”
It’s easy in any sport to point to the last minute of a game, or in track, the last event or two, to believe that made the difference. But Haskell said there are always events earlier in a meet, or missed opportunities earlier in a game, that lead to that tight score late in the game or meet.
And sometimes Liberal came up short late. But not at the regional meet.
“Halfway through, coach Marcus (Calleja) and I visited that we could take the lead,” Haskell said. “We slipped to second, down a point up a point, but by the time the 800 came around, if we could steal some points with Hannah McCarter, we would be good if we finished ahead of Wichita East in the 4 by 400. We ran good 4x4 and won.”
In track, Haskell said there was a different motivation than other sports. While the team score represents all the athletes, individual sports rely on an athlete to strive to do better against their own best effort.
“In track, you total all the statistics form the individuals,” Haskell said. “You can still get to state that way. It’s positive that way. That separates us from other sports except maybe wrestling.”
And while attention is placed on other programs, Haskell said track has been a constant.
“You can say Liberal is a football town or something, but every year we have amazing track and field athletes,” he said. “It started in the 1970s. As far as numbers, we’re not as large as we were in 1990s and 2000s, but we have kids statistically ranked in the state year after year.”
And that’s what is needed to continue success.
“You have to build on that and recruit,” he said. “There are so many sports kids can do. The benefit track gives our kids is reciprocal for other sports. This helps become a better overall well-rounded athlete. We have amazing kids graduate every year. It’s humbling and exciting to see who will be the next to fill their shoes. Maybe the well runs dry one year, but there has been someone willing to step up. Last year Bree Horyna was almost 30 points every meet. This year, it was a nucleus to replace those points after she graduated.”
Another advantage to the girls success was attributed to the coaching staff, according to Haskell.
“The coaches we have work with the girls in other sports, and we have seen success in those, too, including basketball and volleyball.”
The track coaches who also coach other girls sports include Calleja, Brandi Fowler, Chris Brooks and Katie Garcia.
The boys had chances to finish higher at the regional meet, finishing fifth, but Haskell said ti could have been worse as well.
“As the meet started, I was disappointed,” he said. “We didn’t do as well in the field, but it is a give-and-take day. You expect Izzy (Garcia Rotolo) to qualify in the long jump, and he doesn’t, but he qualifies in the triple jump. It’s about finishing in the top four. We had a few more disappointments with the boys than the girls. We could have done better, but we could have done worse. We finished about where we were projected.”
There have been several athletes this season who competed in track and another spring sport, and Haskell said that only works with the right athlete and relationship with the other coaches.
“I have a good relationship with (baseball coach Eric) Olmstead,” Haskell said. “It comes down to the kid and the main sport. If they want to do that, we are gracious to that. Zayden (Martinez) was a good example. When a kid has never done track and field, it could wear their body down. We had to rest him a little bit. At the same time, he is trying to get recruited. A lot of that is gained through experience. It takes a special type of kid to do that. We had a couple soccer girls as well. It takes good communication.”
Now the qualifiers move on to state where Haskell said the competition remains the same — continue to set personal records.
“We never put emphasis on pressure to finish first second third,” he said. “It has to be a goal on themselves, be their personal best. Do better than they have done. You train that way the whole season. If their time is better to get into finals, and if it’s not, you did the best you could do. That’s the positive spin. They come back next year, and that’s where you start. If they are a senior, go out on top in the best they’ve ever done.”
That’s why setting realistic goals have to be a part of the preparation.
“You have to be reasonable but give them hope,” he said. “Everyone wants first. The team with the most kids has the best chance. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s an advantage. But if you set a personal record, the results will speak for themselves.”
The Kansas State Track Meet includes all classes at the same venue and is one of the largest in the country. Haskell said it is definitely worth seeing.
“It’s a spectacle,” he said.
100 Meter Dash — 2. Rylie Hallman, 12.79.
200 Meter Dash — 4. Hannah McCarter, 27.30.
400 Meter Dash — 5. Bentley Fitzgerald, 1:03.1.
800 Meter Run — 5. Daniela Cerda, 2:35.34; 6. Jenny Casas, 2:36.80.
1 Mile — 2. Cerda, 5:37.68; 3. Janaya Devorce, 5:49.08.
300 Meter Hurdles — 5. Hallie West, 51.82.
4X100 meter Relay — 3. Liberal, 51.17.
4X400 Meter Relay — 4. Liberal, 4:18.16.
4X800 Meter Relay — 1. Liberal, 10:18.08.
Long Jump — 3. Shamari Lewis, 16’-3.75”; 6. Paris Bond, 14’-11.25”.
Triple Jump — 4. Lewis, 33’-7”; 8. Bond, 31’-2”.
Discus — 2. NaZiah Williams, 95-2.5”; 4. Kamilah Delgado, 87’-6.5”.
Javelin — 2. Rachelle Terrazas, 103’-3”; 6. Naomi Macias, 99’-2”.
Shot Put — 7. Delgado, 29’-8.75”.
100 Meter Dash — 5. Zayden Martinez, 11.02.
200 Meter Dash — 4. Z. Martinez, 22.73; 6. Daniel Amparan, 22.84.
400 Meter Dash — 5. Amparan, 51.83.
800 Meter Run — 2. Cesar Pavila, 1:58.57; 4. MJ Foster, 2:00.1; 6. Alex Koerner, 2:02.41.
2 Mile — 7. Beto Torres, 10:38.44.
110 Meter Hurdles — 7. AB Amador, 16.57.
300 Meter Hurdles — 8. Amador, 44.06.
4X100 Meter Relay — 6. Liberal, 46.63.
4X400 Meter Relay — 1. Liberal, 3:24.31.
4X800 Meter Relay — 1. Liberal, 8:10.67.
High Jump — 3. Z. Martinez, 5’-10”.
Long Jump — 7. Alexis Galindo, 19’-11”.
Triple Jump — 4. Izzy Garcia-Rotolo, 39’-11.5”; 7. Tavin McDaniel, 38’-1”; 8. Mason Holman, 37’-9.5”.
Pole Vault — 8. Alejandro Pando, 10’-0”.
Discus — 2. Miguel Ovalle, 124’-10”; 4. Trystian Juarez, 119’-4”.