By Steve Keenan
A math teacher, new Collins Middle School track and field coach Joe Lavell knows numbers.
And, Lavell — a New Jersey transplant — also knows that numbers, as well as talent, are two main components of a successful track and field squad.
In his first year coaching at the middle school level, Lavell — a former assistant at Rutgers University and a USATF-certified coach — has watched his Collins Little Devils achieve success in local meets this spring.
The CMS girls squad, in particular, has stood out, placing third of nine teams in a meet Saturday at Summersville and just missing runner-up status in two other events earlier in the spring.
“The girls in the next few years are going to be dynamite,” said Lavell, praising their “raw, physical talent” as well as their “character and work ethic.”
Lavell and assistant coach Dan Stowers are supervising 67 athletes, with the girls squad comprising a much larger percentage.
The boys have some talented participants, as well, but lack depth. “We’re real competitive, but we just don’t have the numbers to score a lot of points.”
Lavell says it took some time to tweak an approach to come up with the right balance in choosing individual meet entries, but things are a little smoother right now.
“Danny and I couldn’t work better together; we mesh real well,” he said. “And they believe in us.”
“We needed some hardware,” he said of his team’s Summersville performance. “These kids are working too hard.”
Collins has at least two meets remaining — the next two Thursdays at Woodrow Wilson.