Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pirate relay team reloaded for 2010

The 2009 Waterloo girls’ 3200-meter relay team had many accomplishments. They qualified for the state meet, finished ninth in the Division 3 race and set the school record of 10:05.01 in the process.

Distance coach Eric Keen doesn’t see the success ending there, however. Every member of the record setting relay team returns to the team this season, and Keen sees the potential to achieve much more.

“They’re going to be in control of their own destiny. What they want to achieve is up to them. The sky is the limit. They don’t even know their full potential yet,” he continued. “It’s very exciting and I really look forward to working with them for the next two, three years and just see what they are capable of doing.”

The distance coach has the girls doing strength work to build a solid base of training. As the season wears on, he will begin sprinkling in speed workouts to help the girls’ peak at the end of the season. So far, the girls have shown promise, but injuries have popped up among the Pirates.

“Everyone is looking faster,” Keen said. “The unfortunate thing is Haley (Madderon) went down with a pretty bad knee injury, basically the second week of practice. She’s a huge question mark. She might try to run a little bit.”

Madderon wasn’t always on the relay team, however. The 2009 team of Tiffanni Stout, Laura Crave, Cassie Forman and Jasmine MacLaughlin qualified for the state meet with a third place finish at the sectional. Keen and the other Waterloo coaches decided to make a line-up change for the state championships in La Crosse.

“Tiffanni also qualified in the pole vault,” Keen explained. “We thought we would utilize her strictly in the pole vault and give one of the younger runners, Haley Madderon, a chance to run.”

The strategy proved successful. Every girl on the team ran a personal best time, and set the school record.

“They got into a fast race and ran what they were capable of,” Keen said. “None of them had the state experience. They had all had a taste of a big race … but nothing of the state caliber.”

After their performance at the state track meet, head coach Shane Seefeld said the relay team had its sights set on breaking the 10-minute barrier. According to Keen, the feat is a very real possibility.

“We ran 10:21 in sectionals to qualify; we ran 10:05 [at state]. Just to drop 16 seconds in one race, shows me that they were capable of running near or sub-10 minutes all year,” Keen said. “Now that they’ve run that time, I don’t think there is anything holding them back from breaking that 10-minute mark.”

Stout is the team’s only senior. Crave (sophomore), Madderon (sophomore), MacLaughlin (junior) and Forman (junior) will be back next year, which allows the team to have future success.

However, with Madderon’s knee issues, which may require surgery, and MacLaughlin recovering from her own surgery, the injuries could slow their progress. Keen does likes what he sees overall, despite of the setbacks, and he said the team is “in a lot better shape than they think.”

“I just want to see them be competitive,” Keen said. “Your main focus is to get to state every year. It’s not something that’s an automatic or a given. Hopefully, we can make it back to state and go from there. It’s always nice to get on the podium. That’s definitely something we’ll try to build upon."

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