The last few seasons have been pretty kind to Utica High’s track and field program.
After coming off of back-to-back league titles for the boys squad in 2011 and 2012, it was the girls’ turn in 2013, as the Chieftains captured a Macomb Area Conference White Division championship following a victory against Port Huron May 7, improving its record to 5-0 at press time.
The win represented the first dual-meet title for Utica’s girls since 2005. According to Megan Berry, who along with Roger White is the team’s co-coach, her team knew what was at stake prior to the meet, and after learning they clinched the championship, the way they chose to celebrate was a first for her.
“They dumped ice water on me and Roger White,” she said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever had the quintessential dumping-water-on-the-coach, which was kind of fun. And then we did a victory lap around the track. They are all abuzz and very excited.”
Given that the girls have not finished any higher than third place since 2008, there may not be a lot of people who can say that they saw a dual-meet title coming. But according to Berry, as the wins started to come, confidence came, too.
And with a fresh dual-meet title now to their credit, Berry would like to see the confidence that was gained remain a staple of the program. While she understands that it may be difficult to come out on top every season, Berry hopes the success of her girls team helps to set a high standard for the program.
“I feel like this is a new era for running at Utica,” she said. “That’s the goal — to have these high expectations, hopefully, year after year. We might not win every year, but I think that expectation is there. They (want to) win and they (want to) be competitive.”
Berry thinks that watching their counterparts on the boys side, and the success they have enjoyed over the past two seasons, benefited the girls in their run toward a dual-meet title.
“I think once you see that it can be done, it opens your mind up to the possibility of, ‘We can do this,’” she said. “I think the girls have had that goal in mind, and seeing the boys do what they’ve done motivated them to go for the win this year.”
Berry has been pleased with the level of enthusiasm she has observed around Utica’s track program, even saying, “It seems like it’s just a buzz in the building.”
Winning can go a long way toward helping to create a positive atmosphere, and Berry expressed confidence in her team’s chances of doing more of it in the future.
“I think we can be just as strong next year, if not stronger, based on what I’m seeing this year,” she said. “They’re already thinking about next year. I think they’re raising the bar for next year already. We’re in the White now, and they’re talking about, ‘When they re-align, can we bump up to the MAC Red?’ They’re really itching to bump up to the Red in the future. I think they are really pumped up and wanting to continue to build the program.”
Utica is scheduled to host a division meet championship at 3:30 p.m. May 21.