The girls and boys track & field team has a new leader in Coach Jake Taft, and he hasn’t wasted any time working to grow the program and reinvigorate his athletes. Taft comes to Beech Grove from Indian Creek where he also coached track and was the assistant football coach. His main focus during his first year is to change the tone and culture of the track & field program here at BGHS. The foundational platform he is using to do this is a commonly used phrase among the team, “Unleash the FREAKS”. Coach explained that the word FREAK is actually an acronym that lays out the core values of the program. FREAK stands for Finish on Empty, Relentless Effort, Embrace Competition, and Known for Discipline. Taft will often use this as a hashtag in his twitter correspondence praising athletes and highlighting their accomplishments. Taft had this to say about the newly adopted mantra, “Since this is our first season as FREAKS the hashtag we picked illustrates that the FREAKS have been unleashed and it’s time to get to work.” As any coach knows, building a new team culture is not done overnight. This first year is all about setting the proper tone and planting the seeds of excellence which Taft and returning athletes are already cultivating with higher participation numbers and attendance.
Getting to work was import to Coach Taft as several track athletes have been preparing for the season since the start of the new year. This led to some impressive individual performances during the brief indoor track season. Overall, 10 new indoor records (3 boys and 7 girls) were set. Romea Echols had a great indoor season for the girls and became the 60m dash record holder. Romea was also a member of the record setting girls 4X2 team which consisted of teammates Marissa Hancock, Jazz McKnight, and Lakambria Tula. Josh Fryar excelled for the boys and qualified for the Indoor State Finals at IU. Fryar placed 8th which makes him an all-state performer.
As the outdoor season gets underway Taft has leaned on some veteran athletes that have taken on a leadership role. For the boys team Jordan Smith has stepped up as an impactful leader. Taft had this to say of Jordan, “Jordan is a middle distance runner so he splits time time between the sprinters and distance runners and has set a great example for young FREAKS in both groups to follow.” On the girls team Romea Echols and Marissa Hancock have been selfless leaders. Taft said, “Romea is completely unselfish which benefits the team immensely. Senior Marissa Hancock has been a huge help since we started in November setting an example for how seniors should act.”
Track & field can often be an individual pursuit as athletes work to improve their personal best in their individual events. However, those placements count towards and overall team score. The team has set goals of improving their conference and county placements this year compared to last year. Also, Taft is looking to increase the number of athletes making it through to regionals and even the state meet.
As spring comes into full bloom you can check out the track team in action at home on Thursday, April 11 and on Tuesday, April 30th. Both meets will start at 5:00 pm with field events. Come out and support the program as the team prepares to #UnleashTheFREAKS!