NEW BRITAIN - Despite failing to score a point on either the boys or girls side in the State Open, the Innovation outdoor track team couldn’t be more excited about the future of its program.
The Ravens are coached by Matt Lance, was not concerned about the point totals. For the head coach, it’s about his young athletes seeing what it’s like to go against the best of the best.
“We have a lot of younger kids here, a lot of juniors. So it’s really about getting that experience of being here,” Lance said. “Going against this level of competition now, at an early stage in their career here, it bodes well for their future. They see what it’s like and can be even more prepared next year.”
Seven of the nine Ravens who competed at the State Open were juniors or younger.
One of the seniors on the boys team is sprinter Andre Sterling, who competed in the 4x800-meter relay. He and Anthony Corso, Jesus Santiago and Quentin Askew teamed up for a 22nd place finish at the State Open.
“Even though it didn’t really go according to plan, with one of our runners falling in the beginning, I feel like we still gave it our all and did the best we could do with the situation we were in,” Sterling said. “I just think we had a great season overall. It’s just a lot of fun to run with these guys.”
The team faced a setback in the beginning, but Sterling was happy with the way they responded. Overall, he thought the entire track team responded well to the coaching all season long. He thought the coaches made it easy to be one of the few seniors on the team.
“It definitely wasn’t any sort of pressure or anything,” Sterling said. “They helped us get through a lot of things this season. They just tell us to go out and have our best race. And that usually helps because you never want to put too much pressure on young people, because then they feel like they have to go out and do it. But they just wanted us to have fun and run our best race.”
Though Sterling is graduating, he is still excited about the direction the team is heading. He said the juniors this year are a talented group.
“As long as they work hard and stay committed, they’re going to have a great year next year,” Sterling said.
Lance said that the team realized, being in the State Open, how good it can be. Many of the players are already ready for the indoor season next fall.
“Some of our athletes were coming up to me after the Class S championships were over and saying ‘Oh, I can’t wait for next year. I can’t wait to start putting work in and training.’ So I think we are already excited for what next year will have to bring. But we’re a deep team and we have a lot of talent across all the different disciplines. I’m just excited and ready to go and it’s only June.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org