Freeport's control over Section 6-AA continues
Freeport track coach Bill Dillen doesn't believe in magic. There's nothing up his sleeve.
Dillen admits there are no secrets or tricks to coaching this sport that the Yellowjackets have simply owned in recent years.
Freeport's dominance, Dillen said, comes down to personnel.
"It's not magic," Dillen said. "It's about getting good kids to come out. An old coach once said, "Xs and Os don't replace Jimmys and Joes.
"You have to have the kids."
The boys and girls teams have combined to win 152 track meets against since 2000. They've lost 13 times in that time frame.
Both teams celebrated Section 6-AA titles this week.
In addition to winning back-to-back WPIAL titles, the Freeport boys team has won 36 straight section meets, going 9-0 the past four years. They are 76-6 since 2000.
The boys have not had a losing season in more than 30 years. The last one was in the late 1980s when the team finished 5-5.
"We've been really blessed," said Dillen, who has been head coach of both teams for 15 years.
The girls team, which finished second in the WPIAL last year, hasn't had a losing season since 1981. Like the boys, they are 52-2 in section since 2000.
"It comes down to three things," Dillen said. "Great kids, a great coaching staff and good support. Those are the ingredients you need to be successful, We have 'em all."
Balance has followed both teams around the track and into the pits. Standout hurdlers have traded high-fives with middle-distance runners, distance runners, jumpers and throwers.
Some teams are strong in one or two areas. Freeport piles up points all over the stadium.
"We have a lot of talented athletes, but we have to work really hard in practice and that's where good coaching comes in," said Freeport standout Lacey Cochran, who competes in sprints and middle distance events. "We have a lot of flexibility. We can move people around and still be OK."
Dillen is modest about his team's endeavors, but he a team of talented athletes needs direction.
"Sometimes, the coach gets all l the blame and too much of the credit," Dillen said. "
"Our coaches care about us," said hurdler Kiel Conjack. "They make us work. Some track coaches don't take track seriously."
Dillen credits his former track and football coach, Don Earley, for building the foundation for a strong program.
"Don Earley set the tone in 1968, my senior year," Dillen said. "I was lucky to play for him. He taught me a lot."
Dillen was a competitor in the javelin.
WPIAL team playoff pairings will be determined Monday morning. Freeport probably won't be complaining about its seedings.
They've earned the right to be considered favorites -- favorites to continue another magical season.