TROY — A year ago, the Troy boys track and field team was in the middle of the preseason when the season was postponed by COVID-19.
As they say, what a difference a year makes.
“Really, it is like starting over,” Troy boys track and field coach Deon Metz said. “We had a brand new track and we didn’t even get to use it. You get into a routine, going to practice and competing in meets. We have some kids back that performed well as freshman and sophomores two years ago.
“And we have some talented underclassmen we are looking forward to seeing perform. Unfortunately, we graduated some good seniors last year and we lost some people that didn’t come back.”
Those athletes Metz fields he can build the team around include sprinters in senior Lucas Henderson and juniors Evan Jones and JJ McCoy, junior hurdler Jack Kleinhenz, distance runners senior Josh Lovitt and junior Braden Coate and field event competitors in seniors Ethan Freed, Grant Klopfenstein, Nathan Kaiser and Zach Ray.
“We have a number of young sprinters,” Metz said. “I am looking forward to seeing them in competition and see what they do. Lucas (Henderson) will be our leader there.”
It is the same with hurdlers.
“Jack Klopfenstein had some success there two years ago and we have a couple other guys there I am looking forward to seeing. Josh (Lovitt) is definitely (the leader of the distance runners). He has taken on that leadership role and is excellent both on and off the track with the other runners.”
Field events will also feature some new faces.
“We have some good throwers returning,” he said. “Our jumpers will be all new faces, so it will be interesting.”
Metz expects to learn a lot quickly, beginning with the Up-and-Running Invitational at Troy Saturday.
“We also have a tri-meet at Greenville next week,” Metz said. “I am going to put as many people as possible in as many different events as possible in those two meets. Right now, we have been practicing for five weeks. We always tell the kids, once we get to the meets it is all downhill from there.”
This will be the first year of track competition in the MVL.
But, the opponents are familiar ones, with Troy competing in the Miami Division with Tippecanoe, Butler, Piqua and Greenville. Sidney is among the five schools in the Valley Division.
But, like everything else, a year off makes the conference race hard to figure out.
“Normally, you would be saying this team is strong in these events and another team looks good in these events,” Metz said. “We are all in the same boat this year. Just like we don’t know what the other teams have, they don’t know what we have either.”
The most important thing is track is back — and Metz and his team can’t wait for Saturday and the opening meet.
“When you run in competition, that’s when kids respond and step up,” he said. “The kids are excited to be able to get out there and compete and so am I. We had this brand new track last year and didn’t even get to compete on it.”
That will all change Saturday — and the Trojans and all Ohio prep track teams can’t wait in another return to normalcy.