The Warriors qualified more athletes for the state meet than a year ago, and had more champions on the county and region levels.
Coach Charley Ingham said the improvements weren’t entirely a surprise.
“After last year, when we had a really young crew and graduated only a few seniors in the 2011-2012 season, we kind of expected something good to happen,” Ingham said.
For helping take the Warriors to the next level, Ingham is the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Cherokee has a long history of track success. Some of the school records set in the 1960s still stand today. Ingham is working on putting all the old records on display and hope that it encourages athletes to try to get their names on the wall.
“Success breeds success,” he said. “There is a lot of good word of mouth going around the building. There are a lot of kids, who were sophomores and will now be juniors, who are dragging people out.”
Ingham is also trying to show students what track can offer. The team recently attended a tournament at the University of Florida.
“When you do big things like that, the kids want to be a part of it,” Ingham said. “If you make it something that people want to be a part of, you are going to get big numbers.”
A former coach once told Ingham that, the more 400-meter runners you have on the team, the more talent you have.
“If you can run an open 400, you can usually run a 200 or 800,” Ingham said. “Sometimes, you can run a 1,600 or a 100 and you can usually jump. So, I mean, the more 400 runners we have, the better off we are. I think that, if you look at our team, you can find a lot of kids who can run an open 400.”
In the end, Ingham said that he was just trying to help his athletes get to the next level. A former college track athlete himself, he knows the doors that can be opened.
“Getting the kids to see something more is important,” Ingham said. “If you look at the statistics, students do much better in the classroom if they are an athlete at the same time. I think, collegiately, it automatically gives you a family environment. You are a part of something. You believe in something. It makes you — or, at least, it made me — much more successful than you would have been. I think, coming out of college, people see that and know that you are driven to do more than just go to college. I think people test themselves are surprised what they find.”
Cherokee will graduate just seven seniors. Several of them, including Talley Redmond, Armony Parker and Tunde Ayinla, were staples at meets this season. But at least one county title winner, Andrew Harris, will return next season, as will Asher Davis, Brandon Hrouda and Aaron Wright.
“Talley Redmond and Tunde Ayinla — having two throwers like that was something,” Ingham said. “But, then again, we have Michael Bean and Travis Head, and both of them are bigger than I am. If you look at the region stands in shot (put) and discus, everybody for the boys at Cherokee High School is there. We are going to miss Armony Parker in the high jump, but those are holes we can fill.”
Cherokee was particularly strong in the throws this season, but that might shift to sprints and jumps next season.
“We had people that could do multiple things well,” Ingham said. “Distance is hard to come by in Region 5AAAAAA, but the kids did really well regardless.”
Ingham is hoping that the team’s depth will carry over to next season. He is looking for his younger athletes to mature and develop into leaders.
“We are hoping to see guys in a capacity that we haven’t seen before,” Ingham said. “It’s one of those things where we try to get as many guys involved as possible because you never know they are capable of.”