For Western Albemarle High School boys indoor track coach Lindy Bain, his expectations going into the season were a tossup between hopeful optimism and resignation toward a year of team-building. “I knew we were young, though I felt we could compete well on the conference level and qualify some relays and individuals for the state meet,” he said. “Regardless, I knew we would work hard and grow both as individual runners and as a team.” In addition to featuring representatives from across all four grade levels, Bain said the team was more well-rounded than it had been in the past few years, which should leave them more competitive as they move into the future.
When asked about the season’s high points, Bain ticked off a long list. “Probably the biggest moment of the season for me was when Corey Sims qualified for the state meet in two events,” he said. “Other achievements I’d like to highlight were our junior pole-vaulters consistently competing well; our junior Will Koester running so well in all of the middle-distance running events; our sophomore jumper, Connor Pearson, improving very quickly in the triple jump; and the freshman distance-runners, all of whom stuck with it and ran incredibly tough throughout the season.”
On a whole, Bain said that, above all else, he was proud of the effort his team put forth to get better, with many team members showing huge improvements over the course of the winter. “It’s great to see these kids put in the hard work and achieve results,” he said. “That’s always the thing that makes me proudest, seeing them grow as athletes and achieve results they maybe didn’t think were possible going into the season…Also, I’m very happy that we had runners qualifying to compete at the state level.”
Athletes qualifying to run in individual competitions at the Feb. 25 state meet were Jackson Smith, Landon Smith and Cooper Saunders in the pole vault, Sims in the 55 and 300 meter hurdles, Koester in the 500 and 1,000 meter races, as well as Joe Hawkes and Stuart Terrill, who both qualified to run in the 3,200-meter event. Additionally, the team qualified runners for the 4×400 and 4×800 meter relays.
At the state meet, the team took eighth place overall. “The 4 x 800 relay team of Koester, Dylan Moore, Hawkes, and Cyrus Rody-Ramazani finished fifth,” said Bain. “Pole-vaulters Jackson Smith and Saunders finished fifth and sixth. And individually, Koester finished third in the 1,000, with Hawkes and Terrill placing fourth and eighth in the 3,200 respectively.”
As far as team leadership went, while Sims was designated as the obvious frontrunner, Bain chose to focus on the future, naming juniors Koester and Max Fueurlein, as well as sophomores Rody-Ramazani and Pearson, and freshmen Jack Eliason, Hawkes and Terrill as go-to guys for their various age-groups.
“Corey is an amazing runner and, if he decides he wants to do it, can definitely compete at the college level,” said Bain. “Moving into the spring season, we’re going to continue to work individually and at the leadership level. We have so many great young runners, I think next year we’re going to see some really amazing things happen.”