SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County track and field team has a new coach and it’s a familiar face within the program.
Jake Darling, head coach of the Rebels basketball team, has taken the reins and is eager to help his cast of runners, jumpers and throwers make strides.
It was the athletes who led to his decision to take over the program.
“This is a good group of kids,” Darling said. “They are eager to start practicing. I want to help them achieve the goals they have.
“That’s ultimately what led to my decision to come out here.”
Darling competed in the 200-meter run and the high jump in high school but said it’s his wife, Hannah Darling, who has most of the track and field knowledge in his family.
“I am getting a lot of stuff from her,” Darling said. “She is the track person. It’s something that’s new to me as far as my career goes.
“I am trying to build up an athlete and help them achieve their goals of getting a better time and get better heights in their jumps and distances. That’s what my goal is — to be organized and keep them running and working hard.”
Darling is still assessing his roster but knows he inherited a strong group of runners from the cross-country team, including Kody Everett. Other key athletes include Isaiah Bell (100 meter), Noah Fort, Miguel Kirkland, Abby McDonald (pole vault), Candace Keiffer, Megan Hilton, Takara Wallace and Layla Green.
“I know we have a really good cross-country team, so we have some good distance runners,” Darling said. “We always have good sprinters at our school. We have some guys on the football team that are good sprinters.
“I am looking forward to seeing what they can do on the track and see if they can push themselves to get their personal best times.”