FAIRMONT - Track is an interesting sport, one in which each individual's abilities decide the team's outcome.
For Fairmont's boys track & field team, five senior athletes are doing their best to make sure that the final outcome of this season is a return trip to the state meet.
The 57th Sentinel Relays on Friday will mark the beginning of "big meet month," with the True Team section and state meets, along with the MSHSL sub-section, section and state events on the horizon.
FANTASTIC FIVE — Fairmont’s Kevin Hanson, Ryan Heuer, Joe Driano, Rainier Quade and Carson Ricard will look to generate numerous points during Friday’s 57th running of the Sentinel Relays’ track & field meet at Cardinal Track in Fairmont in helping the Cardinals defend their Class AA team championship. Photo by Chip Pearson
Joe Driano, Kevin Hanson, Ryan Heuer, Rainier Quade and Carson Ricard each have had great success throughout their high school track & field careers, with this season featuring broken records and elite performances.
Their contributions have been crucial to Fairmont's success, and on Friday they will try to extend their influence against top competition again.
"These guys are team-first athletes. They are flexible and willing to do whatever is best for the team. With all of their events, they are often the last ones to leave the track after practice," said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk.
Individually, each has their specialty, but also can also contribute to the team in as many as eight events. In each competition, athletes are only allowed to participate in four events, but the fivesome's long practices prepare them for any combination in meets.
"We are responsible for each of our events. We know that we need to get our workouts done and we need to make time for all of our different events," said Ricard.
"It's easy to sometimes feel rushed in meets," said Quade. "You just go from event to event."
Of the 44 spots that are open to participants in big meets, these five guys will take 20 spots. That rests a lot of potential points on the shoulders of these Cardinals.
Hanson takes up a majority of the long-distance burden by running the mile and 2-mile races, Heuer tops the hurdles events and Driano has the top 100-meter sprint time of 11.3 seconds. Ricard and Quade do a little of everything, along with their teammates, joining the pole vault and jumping events.
"The cool thing about track is that it isn't just about the major athletes all the time. It is a sport that is about each individual and so you can include everyone," said Driano.
"At the same time, it isn't just an individual sport. It is a team sport that relies a lot on each person's individual effort to win," said Hanson.
Their efforts this season have led to honor roll times, school records, personal bests and 18 wins as a team.
This week, those records and previous times will be tested at the 32-team talent-filled Sentinel Relays.
"We take pride in our events and achievements. We are working hard not just for us, but for the team in our individual events," said Heuer.
After a strong four days of practice, these five Cardinals are more than prepared to play major roles in the Fairmont boys' defense of their Class AA Relays team championship on Friday.