Calvert track coach Stewart Behm concluded his interview Saturday at the state track meet with words about his squad that went beyond its performance.
"This is a family," he said. "This is as much my family as the kids under my roof."
It's hard not to put the Senecas' superior work this weekend in any other context than athletic achievement, so we'll start there.
A state title for Olivia Smith in the 800. The win was a surprise. Going in, I thought the area's best chance for a title was Old Fort's Nathan Alexander in the pole vault (he finished second Friday). Two reporters from other papers noted their surprise in Smith's finish. The runner herself said she only hoped for the top five.
But there she was Saturday - with a smile that stayed with her long after the race was over - standing at the top of the podium.
The Senecas qualified four boys relays, and three of them placed. On top of that, Joe Brodman finished 11th in the 1,600.
But what I'll remember this weekend is how the athletes from Calvert seemed very aware of what they were accomplishing. Smith knew when Calvert's last state championship was, even though she can't be old enough to remember it (The boys 4x4 team won in 1998). She also talked about how important it was for the school to establish itself at this meet.
"We sent a lot of runners down here this weekend," she said. "It's been a really great week. I was representing the girls' team, I was the only girl, and I had to represent. So I came down here and pushed it.
"I'm happy I was able to do this. Hopefully ... gotta get things going the next couple years for this program. Get some people saying, 'Hey, look at Calvert.'"
Smith will have a chance to keep it going; she's just a sophomore.
Brodman also spoke about what this weekend's performances do for the school. The senior has qualified for state in cross country, wrestling and track. Overall, he's made it to five straight state meets.
Brodman was asked about the mark he and his classmates have left.
"We're the first team in 10 years to go to the playoffs in football," he said. "I think we represented well in every sport we did. I think our class in track had a good year, and everything had a good year."
Then there was Dan Reineke and others who gave credit to Behm and the coaching staff, which Behm was quick to give back.
"As far as having them prepared, the kids are the ones running," he said. "I just point them in the right direction.
"You can't work hard in May and expect to be on the podium June 1-2. You've got to start working hard earlier than that, and these kids have done that."
In some ways, Saturday felt like the culmination of the Senecas teams this year in most sports. But it wasn't just the performances. So many of Calvert's athletes knew the school's history. When their own success came, they seemed eager to pass it elsewhere.
And that's as impressive as what the Senecas accomplished on the field.
Zach Baker is the A-T Sports Editor.
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