by John Unrein
Grain Valley assistant boys track coach Eric Stone has taken to social media recently publicizing the strong start to training displayed by members of the Eagles track team in the 100 meter dash. The mild early March weather has produced some robust handheld times. The top 5 times during early trials have included Logan Pratt (10.56), Tristan Pouncil (11.25), Dom Koryke (11.44), Trent Knox (11.60), and Carter Vrlenich (11.63). Stone, being mindful of motivation, asks questions with each post he makes such as, “If you are not on this list, what can you do to get on this list?” Or, “If you want to be higher on this list, what can you do to move up the list?”
“Not having a track season last year, you can tell has lit a fire under this group. Understanding what can be taken away and this beautiful weather has led to some motivated runners,” Stone said.
“Kids like Vrlenich, who were going to be first year track participants last spring are aware as seniors that this is their one shot at competing in track.”
Stone finished, “Twitter has given us another way to celebrate success and push through not being satisfied with where we are at. Mindfulness about goals benefits us as a group and kids and parents when they see it, have had positive reactions as well.”
Watching the sprint group that Stone coaches take off with the youthful exuberance that would potentially strain a middle age hamstring during a sprint brings appreciation to the form and explosiveness needed to compete in this avenue of track. Some may be predisposed to the opinion that speed is genetic, natural, or God given. The trio of Pratt, Pouncil, and Vrlenich are ever conscious though of how the instruction and routine they go through may lead to improvement.
“Boom booms are a drill we do in working on turning our feet over faster. Getting our feet off the ground as quick as possible with our leg parallel to our hip before putting our feet back down as fast as possible,” Pratt said.
Pouncil added, “Doing 200 meter repeats makes us focus on our form past the length of 100 meters. It also builds our endurance.”
Vrlenich concluded, “Gear switches help us find that extra push if we need it at the end of a race. By building up as we sprint, it also teaches us how to pace ourselves.”
The smiles, laughter, and conversation among the Eagles sprint group make it apparent the strong social connection that exists among the group. The occasional clowning around at the end of practice by attempting an event not usually done by Pouncil like hurdles brings jokes and constructive feedback from peers. Some wanted, and some unwanted. The most noticeable thing about the group is their competitive nature. Each is interested in winning and being the fastest at what they do.
“There is something about finishing first and seeing everyone behind me,” Vrlenich said.
Pratt continued, “My friends run with me. This is quick and easy for me. I love competing.”
Pouncil finished, “Ditto. Everything they said. I don’t get to clown around too much, or the coaches will be on my head. Running fast and trying to finish ahead of people is fun.”
Wanting to see growth by improvement in times as the season progresses is the foremost goal for the triad of sprinters. Being aware of the work it will take to get there is not lost on the group as well.
“Placing at State matters to us. Both as a relay team and individually. Starting below 11 seconds in the 100 (meter dash) is a good start. We are willing to do what it takes to get better,” Pratt said.