Last year was a split success for the Delhi and Denair High track and field programs as both boys teams dominated in the Southern Athletic League, while the respective girls teams finished in the bottom half of league.
“We did great. My varsity boys took the league championship in a very close race between Delhi and us so that was back-to-back championships for the boys,” said Denair head coach Jim Wagner. “We have won league a few times over the last four years, so I can't complain.”
“Last year in league we finished runner up by 10 points or less, don't remember the last number but it came down to the last events,” said Delhi head coach and Athletic Director Matt Cabral. “To be honest, last year we started really cracking down and getting more serious about our athletes' commitment.”
How serious? Well Cabral was able to implement some new techniques this recent season which drove the team to a second place finish.
Denair's coach Wagner has built a steady program that has been competitive in league, as the boys have won three out of the last four years.
The girls consistency has shown, having won the SAL in 2012, and this year they are looking to be atop the standings with the boys when the year concludes.
“Last year the girls had a tough time and didn't meet the expectations, but they progressed throughout the year and we had a lot of great individual performance but as a team they didn't do as well,” Wagner said. “This year I am expecting great performances from all three of my teams, including JV.”
Wagner is looking to have the biggest turnout with 50-plus student athletes, including a lot of youth.
Field events will be the strength for the Coyotes this upcoming season, with throwers David Sweeton, Louie Koehn and Libby Martinez fronting the pack.
The few seniors and captains on the team consist of the likes of Jose Orozco and Cheyenne Rutherford.
“It’s looking good. I am completely happy with the turnout and what we’re doing here as a team,” Wagner said. “I would say field events period are going to be my strengths and also my youth will be my strength. I am looking at several freshmen and sophomores that will be able to compete at the varsity level and be successful.”
Delhi has struggled to put up a team on the girls side due to the mass attraction to girls soccer during the same time.
“On the girls side I have recruited hard over the years on that side and I just can't compete with soccer's draw,” Cabral said. “They get a large group of girls to go out, so I work with what I got but to have eight or nine girls is good. We did well with the girls that we had there competing, but we really struggled with the numbers.”
Luckily for the boys, they lose a handful of stars but now welcome back Garret Thomas, who injured his back last year, to compete in sprint and jump events for the Hawks.
“Our throwers will be strong and sprints will be strong as well for the boys. We also have a bigger turnout than last season,” Cabral said. “I feel like there is a lot of excitement for the throwing events.”
Coach Cabral has also been in the midst of setting up a lower level track and field program to educate and promote the sport for kids who have no knowledge of all the possibilities.
Delhi will continue to see years of success and this year they will rely on points from Hayden Stager, Arnold Perez, Scorpio Martinez and Jose Martinez among the others on the deep roster.
Denair and Delhi will compete in the SAL meet at 3 p.m. March 27.
“I have a lot of kids so my thing is as long as we're having fun...that's what matters to me,” Wagner added.