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The fountain of youth

The Bearcats have high hopes for young squad

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Although the track team lost some solid senior leadership and talent from last year’s team, the Bearcats have an abundance of young, promising talent.

To accompany the young talent, experienced seniors participating in field events include Rob Price, Isaac De Los Santos, and Tiersa Darley.

On the track, Josh Hergenreder and Whitney Reisen lead the way, both state medalists a year ago.

The numbers of this year’s track team are greater than they have been in the past, with a total of 87 kids participating.

Eighty-seven kids gives the Bearcats an opportunity to fill every event with red and black, which can translate to much more point opportunities.

The track team also has a new head coach at the helm, Shelby Aaberg.

Aaberg was previously focused primarily on the sprinters, but his new position as head coach requires more managerial business.

“There is definitely a step up from assistant to head in terms of communication with parents and managing things like eligibility and meet entry from week to week,” Aaberg said.

Even though Aaberg has other requirements away from his sprinters on occasion, he expects his athletes to take charge of practice.

“There are times where the head coach needs to touch base with other event groups, but that’s where the athletes need to step up and take ownership of practice,” Aaberg said.

Aaberg does not lack any experience when it comes to track and field, and he brings a culture of accountability, hard work, and team chemistry.

“We are using commitment cards to hold athletes accountable to one another,” Aaberg said.

The accountability is not limited to only athletes, but to the coaches as well.

“Our coaching staff is doing a great job of modeling the behavior we want to see at practice-cheering for teammates in other event groups, competing during practice, and taking genuine interest in teammates’ performances,” Aaberg said.”When upperclassmen don’t go out for track, our staff needs to start by taking a look in the mirror and asking ourselves, ‘what can we do differently to help our athletes work hard and build toward success?’”

Accountability and hard work go hand in hand, and Aaberg knows his athletes will have to work hard every day in practice to reach their full potential.

“Our athletes need to fall passionately in love with practice,” Aaberg said.

Many outside viewers do not believe that track is a team sport, and Aaberg is determined to change that misconception by building strong team chemistry.

“Each athlete is assigned or chooses an athlete on the team he or she does not know very well. They ask about their teammate’s name, their events, and what their goals are for the meet.” Aaberg said. “At the track meet, the athlete cheers on his or her teammate’s performance, and then the athlete follows up on whether or not his or her teammate met their goal.”

Although the track team is very young and under the direction of a new coach, it brings an opportunity for the Bearcats to change the culture, and revamp the track and field program.

“Our vision for the team is for track and field athletes to feel valued by their teammates and by their coaches. We are building a team culture where where athletes roll up their sleeves each day at practice and expect more from themselves. If we are successful in establishing this type of culture, results and athletic performances will take care of themselves,” Aaberg said.

The Bearcats do not lack numbers, which some programs across the state struggle with. The 87 athletes give the Bearcats a chance to score in every event.

“This year I think our team’s strength will be the numbers. As of right now we have 87 men and women going out for track. More people equals more people from Bluffs in each event, which could translate to more points scored,” junior hurdler, Mana Garcia, said.

The trek to May will not be an easy one, and as of recent years, the B6 district has been loaded with talent.

“Each week of the season presents its own challenges that lead us toward where we want to be on May 11, the day of the district meet,” Aaberg said. “We spend 80% of our time during the season in practice. Achieving our long term goals starts with meeting our short term goals – finding the right events for each athlete and helping them improve each day in practice.”

The future is bright for the young and talented Bearcat track team.

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The fountain of youth