Posted Online: April 04, 2013, 7:58 pm

UT distance group looking for big things

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
United Township junior runner Austin Webster nears the finish line during the Shipley Invitational on March 30 at Browning Field in Moline. Webster is part of a talented UT distance group.
When disclosing his expectations for this boys' track season, United Township distance coach Chris Wallaert believes thatlittle things can lead to big things.

How big, according to Wallaert, is up to them.

"If they keep focus and put in the work, great things can happen," Wallaert said. "I really believe that."

The distance group is one piece to the Panthers' puzzle that once again is filled with talent in every area. However, what adds to their importance is their depth and experience. Those two intangibles make them a key part in UT's plan to win a sixth consecutive Western Big 6 Conference title.

However, they hope to accomplish more.

To reach that, Wallaert says it comes down to little things.

"We know what we're capable of," UT junior Tyler Rasso said. "We've just got to do the best we can."

There is a caveat that comes with these expectations. Wallaert stresses that more can be done if they do more than practice hard and perform.Wallaert wants to see a commitment toward a healthy diet and rest, areas that often go unnoticed but can trigger success.

What gives him hope is five juniors -- Rasso, Pauly Boore, Sean Dopler, Nicholar Mends and Austin Webster -- have been part of this crew before, so they understand the expectations and how they can be accomplished.

"There's a lot of potential for growth," Wallaert said.

Everybody believes that.

"We want to take it to the highest level we can," Webster said. "It's going to be a good season."

Through one outdoor meet, they showed glimpses of their potential.

Webster won the A-Flight 1600- and 3200-meter races at the Shipley Invitational, with Rasso winning the B-Flight 800 and 1600. The Panthers also won the 4x800 relay by six seconds.

Those victories get them one step closer to bigger things. The UT-hosted Kiwanis Invitational on Saturday offers another one.

"They all realize they can be faster," Wallaert said. "They want to be faster. If they do the little things, some really great things can happen. As good of things that's happened in recent years."

Championships have defined this program, with Big 6 and sectional titles the expectations. A big part of the success came from the distance group, which had a relay and two individuals win Class 3A state medals.

Armed with another talented group, the hope is having those numbers increase. One meet will not make that happen, but a solid starting point provides momentum.

"Everybody's doing great," Rasso said. "Everybody's doing what we all know they can do."

The potential make it seem that anything's possible.

"I'm excited to see what everybody can do," Rasso said. "It's going to be a great season."

Sounds like the group is thinking big.All it takes are the little things for the goals to be reached.

"Things can be very exciting," Wallaert said. "If they work hard and dream big, we'll let the chips fall where they may."



Track preview capsule

Silver Streaks Invitational (girls)
Where:
Van Dyke Field, Galesburg
When: Today
Times: 4:30 p.m. (field) and 5:10 p.m. (track)
Teams: Alleman, Geneseo, Moline, United Township, Bartonville Limestone, Dunlap, Galesburg, Morton, Peoria High, Peoria Manual, Peoria Notre Dame, Rock Falls

Kiwanis Invitational (boys)
Where:
Soule Bowl, East Moline
When: Saturday
Times: 10 a.m. (field) and 10:30 a.m. (track)
Teams: Alleman, Geneseo, Moline, Rock Island, Sherrard, United Township, Freeport, Galesburg, Maple Park Kaneland, Pleasant Valley, Sterling, Thornton Fractional North