HARTVILLE The track and field postseason ratchets up the intensity, creates plenty of drama and can be a big test for a small team.
The Lake Center Christian Tigers entered the postseason knowing that they didn’t have the roster size or depth to battle on even footing with the top Division III teams in their district, but the overarching goal was to improve on their previous bests and see where that left them.
“The goals were to do our best and to slowly improve our times each day,” head coach Wayne Schultz said. “It was also to also take one meet at a time.”
Those goals were the blueprint for the season and for a young team that featured just one senior, daily improvement was a way to keep focus and not get overwhelmed by the challenges of having a roster with just 20 athletes and trying to compete against larger schools every time out.
The only senior on the roster was Ben Humphrey, who signed to continue his athletic career at Cedarville University.
Humphrey being the lone senior on the team meant that often, inexperienced runners were facing older, strong competitors for LCCS and going to the district meet pitted the Tigers against the best athletes in each event from those larger schools.
Despite those disadvantages, LCCS was able to advance several competitors to the district finals, but none were able to make it through to the regional meet.
“The first day went really we’ll and I was very excited with our results,” Schultz said. “Unfortunately the finals didn’t go as we’ll as I expected. We were plagued with three of our top competitors with injuries from the Wednesday night (preliminary) meet.”
One point the coaching staff regularly reinforces to the team is to not view themselves as underdogs. Their small numbers mean that the Tigers don’t have the volume of athletes to compete to win dual meets, as they can’t put athletes into every event.
However, when it comes to the events in which they do compete, the Tigers look at each as a chance to improve and compete.
“I look at each individual and encourage them to excel in whatever event they have chosen or are blessed with,” Schultz said. “In the past we have done very well with this philosophy.”
In recent years, LCCS has sent seven runners to the state meet in the 800 relay, 200 and 400, proving that the Tigers are able to deliver strong results in the postseason. Going to the district meet this year and not getting anyone through to the regional meet isn’t the short-term result for which LCCS hoped, but with virtually the entire roster coming back next season, the next goal is to take that knowledge gained from the meet and apply it toward next season.
“Having all these young athletes at a district meet is great experience for them especially going into next year,” Schultz said. “They all experienced the high level of competition and what it takes to be a player at that level.”
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB