Like many teams this year, the South Tama County track and field squads are youthful.
However, that's not stopping both coaches from having high expectations this the outdoor season, which officially began Monday. Both STC teams hosted the home invitational on Monday, but the results weren't available by press time.
"Usually our 'Early Bird' is our nicest weather that we have," girls head coach Emily Chyma said. "Our two indoor meets have been on nice weather days. I'm very excited for our meet. You can see where they are in practice, but when competition sets in, it's a different game."
Before Monday's home meet, each squad participated in several indoor meets to prep for the outdoor season. The boys team went to four meets, while the girls attended two.
"I'm very impressed with where the girls are at right now," Chyma said. "They are hitting some PRs early in the season."
Meanwhile, the boys are progressing, but also battling sickness, which has spread to most of the team during the past two weeks.
"We're getting there," boys head coach George Kuhter said. "Last monday, we were loading the bus to go to a meet and we had a puker. He has seemed to spread the flu to everyone, so we are missing about two or three every day. We are starting to gain them back, so hopefully we'll all be healthy soon."
Kuhter also said his boys, which the majority of are underclassmen, are also learning what it's like to compete against older high school athletes.
"We're running outside now and they're actually realizing what they can do," Kuhter said. "A lot of our freshmen and sophomores are realizing this isn't middle school anymore. This is varsity and I'm throwing them into the deep end. Some of them are disappointed, but they don't realize they're running against juniors and seniors."
The STC girls are getting into shape and improving nicely, according to Chyma. Last week, which was supposed to be grueling, has turned out to be a little softer than their coach would prefer.
"Our distance ladies are looking very good," Chyma said. "I'm very excited to have a 4x800. We haven't had that in a while. I'm also excited to have a shuttle hurdle this year."
"So far, the girls have been working hard," she said. "We're on our PTA week, which is pain, torture and agony. With team pictures and other things, it's been more of a 'kind of hurts week.' I'm been happy with what we've been doing so far."
The Trojan girls have zero seniors on the roster, which includes numerous sophomores and freshmen. However, those younger athletes are coming into high school with a solid base.
"My juniors are my elite runners and my leaders," Chyma said. "They're the ones I can lean to for stuff. I've been very impressed with our junior leadership and how they've stepped up.
"We have very good middle school coaches," she said. "I know they feel like they're herding people more than they are coaching, but they are doing an excellent job with the skills that I've seen from the girls. We are fixing techniques and fine-tuning things. I know where I want them to be, but they might not be at that point this year. We have to get things down, then they understand what to do and they will get better."
The boys team is similar as it has only five seniors and many underclassmen. Each class is similar in size, but the juniors and freshmen are the two largest classes on the roster.
"Juniors down, we are pretty balanced," Kuhter said. "We have a lot of freshmen and a lot of juniors. Our sophomores are a bit shaky right now, but I think we have the right ones out right now.
"We will be very competitive in the sprints, but our overall strength will be distance running," Kuhter said. "Our competitors in the field are young."
Each squad returns athletes who competed at the state meet a year ago. Taylor Ellenbecker is the only returning state placer. She finished seventh in the 3,000-meter run for the girls team.
Kelsey Kupka is another returning distance runner for the Trojans. Jade Rohach also competed in the 400-meter run at the state meet.
"Kelsey is looking tremendous," Chyma said. "Her form is down. She's had some problems with her achilles, but she's looking great. I see her excelling in the 1,500, along with the 4x400 and 4x800. She likes to run on relay teams."
On the boys side, Brady Ellenbecker competed in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs a year ago. The Trojans also return their shuttle hurdle relay duo.
Results from Monday's home meet can be found in Friday's Tama News-Herald. The girls will compete at Grundy Center on Thursday. Both Trojan teams will be at Knoxville on Saturday.