“We are feeling pretty good,” Coach Tyler Ridder said. “We have 36 boys out, which is quite a bit for us and excellent to have. We also returned a lot of good athletes.” The Eagles have relied on their strengths so far, which have been the sprint and mid-distance events.
Underwood boys leaning on sprints, in the midst of busy week | Sports “We really focus on the mid-distance stuff and 4 x 400,” Ridder said. “This year, we have a lot of mid-distance guys and sprinters. That’s been a nice surprise this year, but we also knew what we had.”
Ridder says their focus on sprints has also changed the way the Eagles approach practices. Brayden Wollan leads the way in Underwood’s platoon of sprinters.
“We are a sprint-based school,” he said. “With training smart and the kid’s mental toughness, the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 is something we can always get to state. We didn’t really have an identity as sprinters, and now we do. We work a lot more on speed. The kids love it. They show up to practice, get in and get out. Anyone who watched Underwood’s football program last fall knows how much speed the Eagles have. Many of those pieces from Underwood’s state quarterfinalist team are also on the track roster.
Wollan has five state medals to his name. The senior earned three in 2019, finishing sixth in the 400 and contributing to the runner-up 4 x 800 and third-place 4 x 400 squads. As a freshman, Wollan was a part of Underwood’s sixth-place 4 x 400 and eighth-place distance medley teams. “His speed has increased so much,” Ridder said. “He’s doing things the right way. Kids just kinda fall into place with him.”
The Eagles have a lot of experience in their lineup, which has been pivotal while many teams still try to figure themselves out. The multi-sport standout currently owns the fastest 400 in KMAland (50.22) and the fourth-fastest 200 (23.08). He’s recently been sidelined due to illness but is back in the lineup.
“It’s huge,” Ridder said of their experience. “Especially with having the year off. The culture we have built is excellent to see.” The multi-sport standout currently owns the fastest 400 in KMAland (50.22) and the fourth-fastest 200 (23.08). He’s recently been sidelined due to illness but is back in the lineup.
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