Bettering last year is not out of the question.
By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 27, 2000
NEW PORT RICHEY -- He is more drill sergeant than coach at times, more traffic cop than cheerleader, more technician than motivator.
The orders fly out of Glenn Cable's mouth fast and furious, ordering and instructing and directing various groups of the Ridgewood boys track and field team all over Ram Booster Stadium.
Run this distance in this time. Start the plyometric drills. How was your form on the hurdles? On the discus? The shot put? Clear the track. Let's run sprints.
There's nothing relaxed about a Ridgewood practice. It's all business for the Rams, and this season, their business will be chasing not just a Sunshine Athletic Conference title or a Class 3A, District 9 title, but a regional title as well.
"That's definitely our goal this season," distance runner Brad Williams said.
No surprise, Ridgewood is again Pasco County's toughest, deepest, most experienced and most talented track squad. From the distance events to the sprints to the field events, the Rams are as loaded as ever.
They have to be to have a chance at besting last season. "Last year was a really strong year. We had depth, and we graduated some critical people like (pole vaulter and sprinter) Eddie Haab," Cable said. "I think that's a loss you don't just make up for. But those kids who are back this year are a year stronger."
Cable, as ever, sees room for improvement. This team certainly has the potential. After all, Cable's cross country team captured the Class 3A state title.
That group -- Eric Dieters, Matt Johnston, Stephen Mann, Chris Vergnaud, Jim Vitale, Brad Williams and Jon Woods -- is ready to dominate the distance events in track as well.
"Oh man, with this group of guys, we're jam-packed in the distance events," Williams said. "It'll be tough just to get out of regions."
Winning a state title in cross country has the Rams wondering if they can do it again.
Williams said the team doesn't feel pressure to repeat, but they are eager to give it a shot.
"Winning state, that gives us confidence and motivation and inspiration," he said.
Cable is already raising expectations for this group.
"I would like to win the 4x800 at the state meet," Cable said. "I think that goal is attainable, and I'd like to see a few more kids get to state than last year."
Last year would be a tough one to beat. The Rams won their third consecutive district and conference titles -- both over a very angry Springstead squad -- and fourth consecutive county championship. Ridgewood sent 18 athletes to the regional meet. Haab finished fourth in the state in the pole vault, and Vitale took fifth in the 1,600 and eighth in the 3,200.
The Rams have another returning state qualifier in Dieters, who finished sixth in the 800 for Gulf last season before transferring.
Tim Masterson adds another dimension to the distance team. He moved to the area from Buffalo, N.Y., two weeks after Ridgewood won the state cross country title.
"He's excellent in the 3,200," Cable said. "Not like I need another one."
In all, the Rams have eight returning regional qualifiers. What makes this group so good, Cable said, isn't that he has athletes who have mastered just one event, but athletes who excel at a variety of events.
"We can spread our distance guys around to different events, and they have balance," the coach said. "We've got runners who can jump. There's some good field event people, some good hurdlers.
"They'll all score some good points for us."