In his role as Fraser’s football coach, Pat Threet is used to evaluating his team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of opponents.
After he decided to accept the position of the school’s track and field coach, Threet also did his share of research, and based on what he learned, he thought the opportunity would be there to make this season a good one.
Winning a dual-meet title qualifies as a successful season, and Fraser’s boys squad accomplished just that, as the Ramblers shared a Macomb Area Conference Blue Division championship with Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.
Threet credits the coaching staff surrounding him and a well-balanced team for the MAC Blue title.
“There’s a lot of great kids and a lot of great coaches,” he said. “We don’t have any major holes. … I think that was a reason we came out on top. We were a balanced team across the board, in all the different areas.”
A big part of the reason for the confidence Threet had coming into the season was the athletic talent that returned from last season’s team, including Shawn Severs, Tyler Forton and Brian Williams, who are all returning state qualifiers and seniors.
While coaching can have a large impact on a program’s success, there’s a good chance that where championships are found, so is solid team leadership, and Threet thinks he has just that on his squad.
“Our team’s a reflection of our leadership,” he said. “Our kids cared.”
An example of that came on the day the Ramblers clinched a share of the MAC Blue title.
“It was really cool to see a lot of kids pull their best performance, and they did it not when it was for them as an individual, but when they were running for our team,” he said.
“I tell the kids, ‘Great moments happen when you don’t do it as an individual, but you do it for your team.’”
Threet added that he would like to see the league title raise the level of expectation for the track and field program.
“Anytime you win a championship, it’s a great thing, especially for those younger guys. They’ll (want to) do the same, minimally, as what they did when they were younger,” he said. “When I was coaching wrestling, we won a league title, and then we won our district. And it was like those kids that followed, all of them, wanted to do the same thing, or more. That’s what we’re hoping to do with the track team.
“Hopefully, you get to the point where league titles are nice, but you’re trying to be All-State, place at the state finals, and all those things.”
Although some key members of this year’s squad will graduate, Threet thinks there will be enough talent coming back to allow the program to continue to be a contender.
“I think we have a good foundation of kids,” he said. “One of our best distance kids is Matt Lentine, and he’s a sophomore. And (our) best 400 runner is also a sophomore, Jacob VanNieulande. Then we lose a good half-miler, Mark Trombley, who’s a senior — first-year kid, and he did really well.
“We’re (going to) lose some really great kids that scored a lot of points for us, but I think we got a good group that will be coming back next year.”
Track regionals took place after press time. See next week’s paper for a rundown on all the Macomb County state qualifiers.