Opening a new school is an endeavor rife with hurdles and challenges, not the least of which is making sure that school’s new athletic teams don’t get embarrassed out of the gate.
When Mead opened three years ago this fall, Darin Reese, the school’s athletic director, figured a few lopsided losses were on the horizon. Growing pains are inevitable. Yet Reese quickly noted a natural tenacity among the school’s inaugural collection of freshmen that year, a prevailing devotion and work ethic that permeated throughout the entire group.
Reese figured that even if the Mavericks’ various athletic teams didn’t win a lot of games during those first few years, that group nonetheless would set the stage for bigger things down the road.
That group is about to begin their senior year — they are the first class to journey all the way through the school from their freshman year — and few could have predicted the level of success Mead’s athletic program already is enjoying, in large part because of the Class of 2013.
“One of the first things I saw from that initial freshman group was how hard they worked,” said Reese, who doubles as the Mavericks’ boys basketball coach. “That’s pretty much what that group has been about. All of them were very eager to learn and are very coachable. I think that’s the reason we are where we are.”
The 2011-12 school year marked an incredible leap forward for the Mavericks’ athletic department, much of it fueled by the Class of 2013’s talents.
Mead’s girls soccer team, featuring a bevy of talented seniors-to-be, has won consecutive league titles en route to a pair of appearances in the Class 3A state tournament during the program’s first two seasons of varsity play. The boys basketball team, led by Class of 2013 standout Ryan Lozinski, reached the 3A state tournament for the first time last winter. That achievement was echoed by the girls basketball team, which received team-leading averages of 12.9 points and 7.3 rebounds from upcoming senior Kasey McKrola.
Mead also qualified seven wrestlers for the Class 3A state tournament and boasts one of the premiere track athletes in the state in the aptly named, soon-to-be senior Alex Mead.
“We all grew up together, going to Mead Middle School and elementary school, and so we already were close,” said girls soccer player Michelle Goff. “We understood that first year that a lot of people were going to underestimate us and we came out pretty good. There are a lot of people around the school who take a lot of pride in what we do.”
Alex Mead alone would have been a coup for any fledgling athletic department. Mead has collected five state championships, including consecutive victories in the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash. Mead also helped the Mavericks set a 3A state meet record in their winning effort in the 400 meter relay.
“Alex Mead, I don’t think any of us saw that coming,” Lozinski said. “I’ve known that guy since middle school, and to see him as one of the top sprinters in the state is amazing. Our confidence has really shot up since we were freshmen, and I think that has sparked a lot of this. We’re a tight-knit group and we’re really looking forward to this year because it’s what we’ve been looking forward to.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07