The Post-Journal

Half A Team, Plenty of Pride

Picture yourself as a high school football coach with only a six-picture roster. Or a baseball coach with only five men or basketball coach with only three. You would find it very difficult to win, but most of all “frustrating.”

That is the word Chautauqua Central School track Coach Cal Cederquist uses to describe this type of situation.

“This has been a very frustrating four years,” stated Cederquist who took over the Chautauqua thinclad coaching reins in 1973. “If I had had 20 guys I could reach .500. Twenty-five would be perfect.”

Cederquist only has 11. That is his complete roaster. There is nobody waiting in the wings to take over for an injured man, but more important is the fact there are not enough participants for each event. This is why when Chautauqua defeated Pine Valley, 70-64, on May 13 (of all dates!) it was the Indians’ first dual track meet victory in nearly 40 years.

There are 17 events in New York track meets and each team member may participate in only two events. This forces Chautauqua to forfeit all three relays and find itself down 15-0 before the team reaches the cinders.

Speaking of cinders, the only time the Chautauqua tracksters run on cinders is at a meet because the school doesn’t have a track. Of course this means every meet is on the road.

So Cederquist has only 11 men, no track to practice on and every meet is on the road. He has the right to say he gets frustrated.

“A lot of our students don’t know what track is,” explained the coach. “Since we don’t have a track they never see any meets. “He says this is why it is hard to build up interest in the sport at Chautauqua. Also the school doesn’t have a winning track tradition. Mayville, which this year won its third straight county and sectional track titles, has no trouble getting boys out for the sport and this year’s team had over 50 on the roster.

The main problem is Chautauqua has a small enrollment, so there are not many boys to distribute among the spring sports. Approximately 60 boys have a choice of baseball, golf or track teams and for some of the reasons mentioned above, track is their last choice. Now there is talk of starting a tennis team which would spread the available athletic talent even thinner.

The Indian thinclads must practice in a field used by the baseball team. When the baseball team is playing at home Cederquist’s squad must move down to an adjoining parking lot which in no way resembles a track facility, except for the fact it is covered with cinders, but they are not of the track variety. Also, before using the interim “track,” the team must clean it up.

To practice the hurdles only two of the barriers can be set up at a time for lack of space. The pole vault and high jump pits are beside a tennis court. Participants who practice these events must run across grass and then the tennis court to attempt clearing the bar. Cederquist pointed out his team doesn’t have any indication of how it will run on an oval or runway until an actual meet.

Since the team continually loses you would think some members would quit, but that is not the case. Cederquist says the boys are remarkable. They lose a meet, but then they are ready to go out again and try harder the next time. The mentor added that he sets a goal, usually in points, for each meet. If the team loses the meet, but still accomplishes its goal, then the loss doesn’t hurt as much.

Cederquist is proud to say his team scored 70 points once this past season and surpassed the 60 mark twice. His crew averages four to five points per man.

Cederquist’s goal for this squad in the County Class C championships was third or fourth and his team finished fourth. His goal for the sectional meet was fifth and his boys rewarded him with a fourth place finish out of 10 teams. Rex Weary of the Indians took first in the high and triple jumps at the county meet and won the triple jump at the sectionals.

The Chautauqua team and Cederquist have to be proud of what they accomplished this year with only 11 men. Cederquist should be especially proud that his boys even have the desire to compete considering the odds stacked against them.

We may hear stories next spring of some mysterious creature lurking in the halls of Chautauqua Central School abducting students, particularly those who move quickly. It won’t be a creature, but it will be Cederquist trying to get more “bodies” for his track team.

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