By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Admitting he has a young squad, Washington boys? track and field head coach Steve Roth knows there is some work ahead, and still hopes to see great things for the team.
After about two weeks of practice and with the annual Demon Indoor Track Meet coming up at the end of the week at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Roth said the girl?s track team will begin competing at 4 p.m. Thursday and the boys meet will be at 4 p.m. Friday. Running events will begin at about 4:30 p.m. Roth said about 27 girls? teams will be competing and about 31 boys? teams. He explained the event was held away from Washington because Washington does not have an indoor track. The first outdoor track relay will be March 27 when Washington hosts the Steve Roth Relay.
?It is our 10th year of doing this,? Roth said. ?It is the Demon indoor and is sponsored by Washington. I?ve been in charge of it since we started it. Originally it was at the University of Iowa, but we have been in Cornell the last four or five years.?
Roth said the Demons team is between 45 and 50 strong. He said about seven are seniors. Commenting the team still is young in many areas, he said the team does have some very good numbers in certain areas. He said the hurdles aren?t as deep as he would have hoped, but the team is showing plenty of promise with the sprints. He also said there are some veteran distance runners.
Roth said senior Brendan Horak is one of the runners he is relying on for a strong showing this year. He said Horak went to state in cross-country in the fall and made a great showing. Roth said Horak has been working all through winter to prepare for the season.
While none of the state runners from last year have returned, Roth said Ethan Hunt had been ?right on the bubble? of going. He also said that Hunt is another runner that is showing plenty of promise for the coming season.
?I?m expecting big things out of my seniors,? Roth said. ?My seniors are the ones I am expecting to carry the load. There are also tough younger classmen to carry the boys? side. it is tough. They have to mature and we have to get them to be juniors and seniors.?
Roth said for the most part the strengths of the seniors are in the sprints, except for Brendan Gault and Kiowa Keith who run 800s and 400s. The other seniors are sprinters and hurdlers. He said Mario Tapia is a hurdler and Tanner Murphy is a sprinter. Collin Murphy is a shot-putter who has placed the last three years. Mark Engelken throws disc and Roth said he has improved every year.
The team also has some incoming talent. Roth said that he has high hopes for some of the underclassmen. While he doesn?t want to name them as he feels this will put undue pressure on them, he said that there are some freshmen who he hopes will be able to step in for field events. He stressed the long-jump and the shot-put events where he expects good things from younger competitors.
Every year, Roth said, the goal is making it to state. He said the shuttle hurdle is close and the sprint medley was close last year.
?We want to get to state and we have the opportunity to do that,? he said. ?We have to get better. What they put into it is what they get out of it. If they put a lot in, usually they get great dividends at the end.?
Roth has been the track and field coach for 42 years.
While he retired two years ago, he said that he continued coaching because he loves teaching the sport to young people.