By Jeremy McDonald
TIGARD, Ore.— During Tuesday’s rainy practice, the Track and Field team at Tigard High School found themselves in two different locations.
Some were on the track in the rainy March weather, others were at the Aquatics Center across the way from the campus.
That’s where we find Head Coach Shane Kessler directing his Pole Vaulters in the deep end of the indoor pool on how they can improve their form with the season on the horizon.
Kessler hopes that the momentum built in 2015 that saw the Boys team finish seventh in state and the Girls finish eighth can carry into the 2016 season starts with practice with constant competition.
“Everything we do in practice is competitive,” said Kessler. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy, you’re running and training in groups, training and pushing each other. And there’s always somebody you’re trying to chase or not trying to caught by, so that translates over to when we get to the big meets because the kids are used to doing that every day in practice.”
That competition, whether it’s sit-ups, runs or whatever it is, Kessler wants his athlete’s to be as competitive as they can be while having fun in the process.
With that, it all translates into the results you see come race day, to peak at the right time.
“Not every kid is going to 6’4, 250 and runs a 10.1,” Kessler admits. “We’re (just) trying to maximize the ceiling on all the kids, so when they are competitive in practice and have fun at practice.
“The momentum that you see at the end is really the result of all the stuff we do all winter long throughout the spring now.”
With the season finally upon the Tigard Tiger Track and Field team, they’ll look to turn their competitiveness back to the track once again.
The strengths on this team, if you had to pick some through this fight, this competitive spirit that Kessler’s Army have, are to follow:
For the men, the sprinting events, the relays, the pole vaulting and javelin are some of the events to be keeping an eye out for Tigard.
“We’re a super strong big name team on the boys side,” said Kessler. “I’m exciting to see our distance program, it’s climbing up there. We’ve got a few kids who’ve been training hard, so it’ll be nice to see how we compete against the Lakeridges and the Newbergs and those teams who always have (athletes) in the 8 and 15-type kids, that are a challenge.”
In the throws, they have senior shot put Derek McMurray returning, McMurray finished second in the state as a junior with a 50’9.25” toss in the finals.
As for the women, the 200-,400- and 800-meters sprints, the relays and the hurdles are the strongest in the running events with Elise Conroy returning to the throwing events and will lead the field events for the Lady Tigers as the jumpers will be another featurette of the field events.
Conroy, finished third in state in the Shot Put and fourth in the Discus.
“So we almost have all the kids we took to the State Meet last year, coming back,” said Kessler. “Some of them a little more angrier than others.
“I think we’re a very competitive big meet team. It’s exciting on both ends, we lost a couple of key seniors, but with the incoming track kids and the existing ones coming back from last year, both teams are going to be pretty strong.”
As for any competitive team like a Tigard, it’s high.
It’s high because they’ll face some of the toughest competition in the State of Oregon within the Portland area, even within their own conference in the Three River League with the likes of schools like the Lakeridges and the Newbergs out there awaiting the Tigers of Tigard High School.
“It’s always the same, (to) win a State Title in both (boys and girls),” said Kessler. “We’re trying to win at the District level and at the District Meet. That goes back to the competitive component and the kids know that. They already know that the expectations are high and the kids embrace that.”
As practice in the pool wraps up, you saw some fun occur as some of the Tiger athlete’s took turns off the diving board with Coach Kessler laughing and jokefully challenged the next kid to do something more than the last.
That competitive spirit that Kessler preaches. It’s something that has to come within, and when it appears, it’s something extraordinary.
TIGARD TIGERS TRACK AND FIELD SCHEDULE (AS OF March 15, 2016)
Thu, Mar 17 Pole Vault Clinic
Fri, Mar 25 Unattached Summit Decathlon/Heptathlon
Wed, Mar 30 Sherwood JV Invite
Fri, Apr 1 Cotton Invitational
Wed, Apr 6 Tigard & Tualatin @ Lake Oswego
Fri, Apr 8 BMW Portland Ultimate Invitational
Wed, Apr 13 Newberg, Tigard at Lakeridge
Fri, Apr 15- Sat, Apr 16 Oregon Relays
Wed, Apr 20 Sherwood & St. Mary’s @ Tigard
Sat, Apr 23 52nd Centennial Invitational
Fri, Apr 29 Nike / Jesuit Twilight Relays
Wed, May 4 Tigard, Canby @ West Linn
Fri, May 6 TRL Novice District Championship
Wed, May 11 6A-4 TRL District Championship Day 1
Fri, May 13 6A-4 TRL District Championship Day 2
Fri, May 20-Sat, May 21 OSAA 6A State Championships
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81