It was only a year ago that a group of Madras track and field athletes sat wide-eyed with a new coach in Darrell Yount and new way of training.
Yount brought two decades of coaching at track powerhouse Crescent High (Wa.), where they put a lot of emphasis on plyometric and dynamic speed training. When he introduced these routines at Madras, the concepts were somewhat foreign to kids, which was to be expected.
But now that Yount is back for year two, and with numbers strong — 25 girls and 32 boys — the White Buffalos are further along than they were a year ago.
"A lot of veterans are back from last year that now really understand what we're about," Yount said. "They really picked up and embraced where we left off last year, so two weeks of practice, we feel like we're ahead of the game."
Another expectation that Yount brought with him was for most athletes to expand the number of events they compete in and then narrow it down as the season goes on.
The Buffs had just one state qualifier last season in graduated senior Miklo Hernandez. It goes without saying that they want to raise that number significantly. An early look at the last year's district times subtracting the seniors gives Yount plenty of reason to be optimistic.
"We'll see how it all comes out," he said. "It's going to be exciting."
Early standouts on the boys' side include Harrison Manu, who Yount estimates is a threat to go to state particularly in the javelin, as well as hurdles, and a couple of relays. Shae Yeahquo figures to be competitive in similar events, as both he and Manu bring athleticism from other sports and have tall, rangy body types that make them versatile in track and field.
Junior Michael Kaltsukis has the ability to compete in several sprint events, and, as a senior, Josh Rodriguez comes out for his first track and field season, showing great potential as a high-jumper early.
Junior Laisha Alvarez heads up the middle distances for the girls, and also has shown the ability to be competitive in sprints as well.
In throwing events, senior Cera Clay already owns the third farthest shot put mark in Madras history, and Allyson Dominiak placed at districts in the discus last season as a freshman. Countless others are showing potential, and some will undoubtedly emerge sooner than later.
Madras opens its season Wednesday with the Mountain View Relays at 3 p.m.
Follow him on Twitter @WillCDenner