A new track. A new element to the training program. And more than 25 student athletes trying out for various events in track and field.
Homer High School Head Track Coach Bill Steyer, now in his fifth season with the program, is reaping the benefits of building the track and field program from the ground up — including what is his largest team to date.
Although the track is still covered in snow, the team has already been getting practice time outdoors — which means better conditioning early in the season, says Steyer.
Amping up the training program, the Mariners run more than a mile to The Alaska Training Room twice a week where certified athletic trainer Mary Jo Cambridge works them through an hour of circuit training and core strength workouts.
Along with help from The Alaska Training Room, Steyer’s main assistant coach is Mary Kate Green, a former college hurdler and high jumper who trains the short sprint and hurdlers for competition.
First-year volunteer throwing coach Randy Ricther will take the reins of the shot-put and discus throwers.
The coaching staff is rounded off by Steyer, who specializes in distance and short-distance running, but overlaps his training which keeps the Mariners working as a team among all of the individual events taking place.
“At the end of the day we’re competing for points, so if everybody works to the best of their ability both at practice and at meets then as a team we can score more points. In addition, the relay events take on a real team element,” says Steyer.
He added everybody’s actions and decisions can impact the team as a whole because they all are competing as Homer Mariners.
Along with a team mentality, Steyer’s number one goal is to continue building the Mariner track and field program to make it an even more desirable spring sport for years to come.
With its brand new track attracting statewide attention, Homer will host the 2013 Kenai Peninsula Borough Championships toward the end of this season. The two-day event will be held May 3-4 and is expected to draw more than 500 middle school and high school athletes.
Last year, the Mariners qualified four athletes to the state competition in the large schools pool, but this year with the move to division 3A, the Mariners will compete at the small schools level and hope to have even more state contenders.
Junior Tayla Cabana, who medaled as the fourth place finisher in last year’s state competition for the long jump, also hurdles, throws shot-put and runs mid-distance and will be looking to duplicate her last year’s performance on the track.
Senior standout Mark McGregor is again being considered as a state contender, specializing in sprint hurdles. Junior and long-distance runner Pedro Ochoa, who also competes in Steyer’s cross country running program in the fall, is also gearing up for a long, successful season.
“Keep your eyes out for him on the distance run,” says Steyer. “He has been working real hard and is going to have a good year. “
The Mariners travel to The Dome in Anchorage Friday and Saturday to compete in the sixth annual Grace Christian School’s Big C Relays. The Dome is home to North America’s only 400-meter indoor track.