You want team players?
The Erie girls track team has them in bundles. What else could explain the Tigers enthusiasm for last year's Class 4A state meet, when not a single individual qualified for state yet they had four relays running in the sport's signature event last May?
It was unique to say the least. Erie's 400, 800, sprint medley and 1,600 relay teams — made up of a grand total of six girls — all finished in the top 18 to be able to make their presence known at Jefferson County Stadium.
Sure, there may have been a little part in each of them that wanted to train a little bit more frequently to run individual events, but accomplishing so much as teams brought them a ton of joy.
Continuing that tradition in relays is still a top priority.
"It's really great to have quite a bit of our relay group back, and there are a lot of younger girls, freshmen and sophomores, that I think we can continue to perform well with," said senior Rylin Brett, that common denominator returning for all four relays this year. "It's awesome that we have so many different girls that can fill out the teams."
There won't be much need for filling out, as only Jamie Hogan graduated from the six-pack of talent. Along with Brett is a group of three sophomores — Teagan Brand, Haley Hahn and Kaelin Hawkins — and a junior, Teagan's older sister Alia.
Along with then-senior Jamie Hogan (joined Brett in running all four qualifying relays), Hahn, Brett and Teagan Brand combined to place seventh in the sprint medley with a time of 1 minute, 50.05 seconds.
They hope to repeat that feat but also add to it. The 400 team (T. Brand, Brett, Hahn) placed 16th, the 800 team (Brett, Hawkins, T. Brand) placed 17th and the 1,600 squad placed 16th.
Brett said there was a certain affinity with the sprint medley that they hope to create with the other races.
"Bottom line, we're going to be faster," Brett said.
However, Hogan's shoes will be tough to fill. And it is in finding a consistent fourth girl, or a couple, where the challenge lies.
"Finding the fastest girl is part of it if you want to win, but more important is the dynamic of the relay and the fact you all have to trust each other and work well with one another," Brett said. "You have to get the hand-offs down if you want to perform well. It's just such an important part."
"Consistency is huge," Teagan Brand said. "Another big thing is making sure their times can stay (steady) so we can plan ahead for certain meets. It's just another thing you have to think about."
Martus, who was an assistant prior to taking over as the head coach this season, is cautiously optimistic about the base he has with those returning girls.
"With five girls back it makes it a ton easier to figure things out, and they are all so young still so they can just keep working together to get better," Martus said. "Ideally, you want to go from just being at state to seeing some finals. I think these girls can help get the program back up where it has been in past years."