By Garrett Aleckson —
Both the University of Wisconsin–Stout men’s and women’s track and field teams have started their seasons. Kyle Steiner—entering his third year as head coach—leads both the men’s and women’s teams.
Both teams have different situations and very different outlooks. For the women’s team, Steiner says the outlook is excitement.
“Excited—to see what we can do and accomplish with this group,” said Steiner.
The ladies have one of the deepest teams in history—which definitely helps raise the expectations of the team. Steiner says that they have a chance to be competitive in most events.
“We expect this to be the best team in school history because we are very competitive in every event—which is something the women’s team has never been able to do,” said Steiner. “We also have the ability to qualify more women for the national meet then we ever have. If we can stay healthy this could be a very memorable season.”
Kathleen Thorn (Sr, West Salem, Wis.) is a team captain and entering her final season of track. She and the other captains have set high expectations for the ladies.
“My expectation for the team is to build a team of smart, successful student-athletes,” said Thorn. “In talking with the other captains, we have challenged the ourselves to qualify more girls to the conference meets, place fourth as a team, qualify more women to the national meet and to have more women earn All-American honors.”
In contrast, Steiner says the outlook for the men is curiosity.
The men’s team has a lot of youth on the team, but Steiner says that means that the younger guys will need to step up and develop over the season.
“We are really young, so the success of this team will be determined by how quickly the young athletes are able to develop,” said Steiner. “We do have some upperclassmen that can really contribute at both the conference and national level, but we don’t have enough upperclassmen for them to do it on their own—so that’s why the underclassmen are going to be so important.”
Christian Lucchesi (So, Milwaukee, Wis.) went to nationals last season, and believes that the team can perform well this year.
“I think we can accomplish a lot. The captains met and we decided on some numbers for conference qualifiers and points we could score at conference,” said Lucchesi. “Our freshmen—although they lack experience—excel in talent and work ethic. Our returners are fired up for more progress after seeing how well things went at the end of last season.”
The youth creates an interesting dynamic, but Steiner believes that it will prove to be a good thing for the team.
“We have to ask our juniors and sophomores to step into greater leadership roles than we normally would,” said Steiner. “With that being said, they have done a pretty nice job—which should really create a strong group of leaders over the next couple years. There can be some initial growing pains, but long-term it’s going to be a great thing for this team.”
This season will bring an end to some college athletic careers and for Thorn, that has not sunk in yet.
“I still don’t think it’s truly hit me that this is my last track season. But primarily I am feeling ambitious and antsy to get going again. So I’m just wanting to get back out there and leave it all on the track one last time,” said Thorn.