The 2021 Triad boy’s and girl’s track team is as follows: row one, from the left, Kohl Eggleston, Joe Ferguson, Klinton Driscoll, Wyatt Robison and Tavin Yorgason. Row two, from the left: Hannah McManaway, Megan McManaway, Tabitha Gaier, Shalyn Smiles and Aliandra Yorgason. Row three, from the left: coach Michael Yoder, Maison Johnson, Cayla Eaton and coach Mackenzie Swary. Not pictured: Jared Grissom and Mason Harper. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Triad track teams are coming into the spring season with low numbers and little experience.
Second-year head coach Michael Yoder, though, said the athletes are ready for the challenges.
“Although we are a small group, we are an athletic group eager to learn and improve,” he said. “Our team shows a lot of interest in the fundamentals and truly investing themselves into this sport.”
Yoder took over the head coaching position last season, but was unable to bring his skills to the team due to COVID sweeping throughout the state.
The virus canceled all 2020 spring sports.
With the cancellation, Yoder lost 13 seniors to graduation while alternatively only introducing three freshmen to this year’s team.
That leaves only 12 athletes on both the girls and boys teams.
Yoder said the Cardinals have no doubt lost some leadership, but he doesn’t seem too worried about his young talent.
“I am not that worried with how the group we have now has handled themselves this year,” Yoder said. “There are some young athletes who show a serious investment in the coming seasons.”
Both teams are split with six on both rosters.
Besides a few runners who competed in cross country in the fall, Yoder will be working with athletes who have little-to-no track experience.
“Very few have been with track and field since seventh grade,” he said. “Many of our athletes have just now hopped into the track and field life or did so last year and missed out on the season.”
While most of Yoder’s crew is young, the coach himself is young to coaching and has reached out to others to help him and his athletes.
“Last year we added Coach Mackenzie Swary to the program and with that brought in great coaching knowledge,” Yoder said. “We also have good relationships with many coaches in our area who want to provide their experiences and wisdom to our young coaching staff.”
Yoder understands his teams’ numbers mean it will be a challenge to win meets.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want his squad to be competitive.
“We have to be competitive at every opportunity, both at practice and in every competition,” Yoder said. “We will have a hard time winning meets with the small numbers we have, but we can definitely make it difficult for others.”
Yoder also believes the Ohio Heritage Conference is a tough league in track and field.
However, he feels Triad has shown the potential to rise to the top with a pair of state qualifiers in 2019.
As to where his teams will stack up in the league this spring is still up in the air.
“For much of our squad, it is unknown where we will fit in until we start competing,” he said. “But we know we won’t just show up and be good just because. To be near the top of this league is a resume of hard work.”
Triad track and field teams will open competition against Fairbanks on April 8.