Fantasies about winning state championships are quite popular at the moment, just days before the high school track and field season is to commence.
But in Andale, there’s more at stake than a single season of greatness. The boys team, under coach Greg Smarsh, is in the process of solidifying a dynasty, which was bolstered by winning the Class 4A title in impressive fashion last season.
In the last seven years, Andale has won three state championships and taken third twice. With nine state qualifiers set to return this season, which begins this Friday at the Andale Relays, the Indians have aspirations of something greater.
“We love living up to our name,” said senior Jared Smarsh, one of the returning state qualifiers. “It helps push us because we want to live up to that Andale name. We’re proud to be Indians.”
What has made Andale’s dominance unique is that it has accomplished it without many individual state champions. The Indians recorded one of the top point totals in the state meet history for 4A last season with 85 and did so with one individual champ.
Andale can compete because it consistently attracts 75 or more boys to join the team, a luxury for a school with an enrollment of 417. Some 6A schools can’t draw that type of participation.
“A lot of people consider track as an individual sport,” Jared Smarsh said. “We don’t take that attitude at Andale. I think it’s worked out well for us.”
As a program, Andale is known for producing yearly contenders in certain events. Once again, the Indians will be strong in the hurdles (Jared Smarsh), the relays (Smarsh, Hunter Knoblauch), the high jump (Lane Macari), the pole vault (Ethan Meyer, Hayden Bugner, Jordan Horsch), and the throws (Jeffrey Ast, Evan Omo, Luke Walstad, Trevor Buckner).
Last season alone, the Indians sent the maximum of three individuals to state in an event three times, in pole vault, high jump, and javelin.
“It is almost an unfair advantage when you can put three quality kids in each event,” Greg Smarsh said. “Not many 4A coaches can do that.”
It’s a group that is equipped with the depth to compete for another state trophy and talent to repeat as state champions.
The significance of that would-be achievement isn’t lost upon this group. That’s the motivation.
“If we can repeat, that would be four championships in eight years,” Greg Smarsh said. “That would be getting into that elite status there. They’re really focused on that right now.”
AREA ATHLETES TO WATCH