Every day is potentially your best day.
At least, that is the way Alex Koebele would like to see it.
The veteran track coach may be in his first year coaching track at Charleston High School, but Koebele brings 15 years of coaching experience in football and 10 years of experience in track to the boys’ track team. With a strong coaching staff and a team that is willing to work hard, Koebele is excited about the outdoor season for the Trojans.
Koebele cited an “incredible” coaching staff that has helped the transition so far. Koebele replaced Josh Stice, who resigned after last season. He is joined by throwers coach Brad Oakley, jumps coach DeVondre “Dre” Gaston, pole vaulting coach Chad Lowell, long-distance coach Jerry Payne, and sprints and hurdles coach Tyler Hanner.
“They have been amazing to work with,” said Koebele. “They have a wealth of knowledge and do things the right way. We have 48 young men out for track which is the largest number they have had for quite some time. A lot of these guys have never done track and are super green so our start has been a bit of a rollercoaster but these athletes have unlimited potential and I keep telling them it is not where you start it is where you finish. We recruited the hallways all winter and these guys are a great group to be around!
Charleston lost two state qualifiers and All-Apollo jumpers from last year but returned one state qualifier in senior Alex Stout. The senior qualified for the Class 2A State Championships in the discus last season and made the Finals as well, finishing 12th overall in the state. Senior Caleb Oakley is hopeful to make a run in a successful season in the hurdles. Oakley owns the third-best 60-meter hurdle time in the conference right now and is within 0.3 seconds of Lincoln’s Parker Campbell, who won the 300-meter hurdles as a freshman last season.
“Alex and Caleb are off to solid starts this seasons,” said Koebele. “They both have already had personal bests in shot and hurdles. I look for them to continue to get better and better as the outdoor season gears up.”
The Trojans lost state qualifiers Zach Stout in the pole vault and Wyatt Strader in long jump. Strader was the Apollo champion in the long jump last year, while Jacob Flight was the winner in the triple jump. So far, junior Ethan McBride looks like a contender in the jumps. McBride placed fourth in the triple jump in the indoor meet and owns the second-best mark in the Apollo as of now.
“McBride is off to a fabulous start,” said Koebele. “He already owns a personal best in the triple jump last week by four ft and he and the coaches have high expectations for him. He is just now scratching the surface of how good he can be.”
Filling out the rest of the team will feature a variety of names that are out for the first time. Junior Luke Nelson placed sixth at the Apollo indoor meet in the 400-meter dash and is out for the first time. Nelson could see time in the long jump this season. Joining the field events are returnees in junior Grant Kattenbraker, while junior Marquis Green is a transfer who has experience in the pole vault.
Green has also impressed in the high jump where his jump of 1.65 meters placed sixth at the indoor meet and ranks as the fourth-best mark in the Apollo so far.
“Luke, in his first year of track, is showing a lot of promise in the long jump,” said Koepele. “Marquis transferred in this year and is going to compete for us in the high jump and the pole vault. Grant came out this year and is an excellent pole vaulter. Newcomers like Langdon King, Parris Coopwood, Luke Nelson, and returners of Azzriel Brazzel and Jeremiah Hayes have created a lot of excitement for our program. We expect big things from them.”
The distance crew is headlined by sophomore Blake Homann, a sectional qualifier during the cross-country season. Homann’s mile time of 4:55.48 placed him ninth overall at the indoor meet. He also figures to be a fixture in the 4×800 meter relay and 3200 runs. The rest of the distance unit is young as well with freshmen Noah Hardwick and Jon, and sophomores Dylan Hawk and Tyler Hodges.
“Our distance crew is very young and Homann is the leader of that group,” said Koebele. “They are a bunch of really good kids that work really hard and Blake sets the tone for that group. He has already run some life PRS this season in the mile and he is just going to get better and better along with a lot of our other young guys.”
With the early efforts into the season, Koebele acknowledges there is a learning curve to the newness of the team, but has loved the team’s competitive spirit in looking to be their best at every meet.
“When I talk about the season with our crew the one thing we preach is to PR every time you are out there,” said Koebele. “Be as competitive as you can be, do things the way you have been coached to do them, and represent our school in a positive way. These guys are doing that every meet. Competing for each other and I believe big things are on the horizon for this program. We will continue to worry about ourselves getting better every day and see where the chips fall in May.”