Consistency remains for MHS track

With the departure of five state competitors and longtime head coach Doug Bacon, change was at the forefront of the Bobcats’ offseason.

Though entering the outdoor portion of the 2013 campaign, continuity and tradition have remained a constant for the Marshalltown boys track team.

In his first year at the helm, Mark Chardoulias isn’t messing with the formula that’s brought longtime success to the Bobcats’ program.

“We haven’t changed a whole lot,” Chardoulias said of his training plan. “It’s more a matter of maintaining and doing the work. Why argue with success?”

Tad Steffensen had his fair share of success at Drake Stadium last season and is the lone returnee from last year’s state qualifier contingent that had six entries in five events.

The senior speedster anchored the MHS 4×400 to third last year – setting the school’s third fastest time of 3:20.71 in the process. Steffensen, who also ran on the sixth place 4×200, eighth place 1,600-meter medley and finished 12th in the 200 meter dash, will be the foundation for this year’s sprint crew.

“We’re going to build around Tad,” said Chardoulias, who also expects big things from Brandon Pettigrew and De’Quan McDowell.

Kolby Keeler and Paul Landherr highlight the hurdlers as both competed on Marshalltown’s 14th place shuttle hurdle relay team at state two years ago.

Zach Wells, Scott Johnson, Daniel Talbert and Hunter Barnard lead the Bobcats’ distance group, while Pedro Gomez and Zach Smith will provide a strong anchor in the throwing events. Smith has improved 8 feet indoors in the shot put from his best performance outdoors according to Chardoulias, who is anxious to see what his squad can do outdoors – after being cooped up inside much of the early season with the winter weather.

“We’ve done the best we can,” said Chardoulias, who noted his squad has remained healthy for the most part. “We’re like just about every other school in the state. It was a lousy spring for track outdoors but we’ve made due. We’re fortunate with the Roundhouse and some of the facilities we have that other schools don’t have.”

The Bobcats break out of blocks at home in the Kenny Dean/Early Bird Invite Friday at 4:30 p.m. and will see top competition throughout the year in the Central Iowa Conference.

“You’ve got Ankeny, Valley, Dowling, Johnston, Waukee … you name them, we’re going to run into them in conference,” Chardoulias said. “It will be an easier meet going to districts than it will be at our own conference meet because there’s just quality kids up and down with every team.”

Along with his own quality talent to aid the transition, Chardoulias is joined by an experienced staff of assistants including Mark Bohan, Mike Eggleston, Bill Ormston, Ethan Crow and Clyde Lawler.

So far it’s been pretty smooth sailing for the Bobcats, who have put in the work to succeed down the road and keep the MHS tradition intact.

“The kids have a good attitude, are hardworking and fun to be around,” Chardoulias said.

“We want to carry on the tradition that’s been here in the past. Coach Bacon did a tremendous job and had a lot of success. We’re just trying to find the pieces, put them together and see where we go from there.”