BENNINGTON — She might be entering her first head coaching job of her career, but that hasn't stopped Charnay Ryland from preparing like she did as a player.
"I feel like I'm back getting ready to compete in my first meet, but I'm actually preparing my kids to compete," Ryland said. "I have been involved in athletics since I was three years old, so it's a dream that I am still able to be a part of athletics as a coach now and helping other athletes achieve their goals."
Ryland takes over as the Mount Anthony track and field coach this season, after being an assistant coach for MAU in the winter season for indoor track. She was also an assistant coach for the Southern Vermont College women's basketball team this winter.
The first year coach is a recent graduate of Montreat College in North Carolina, where she participated in both basketball and track, becoming the first person to be a national qualifier and All-American at her school in track.
"I am excited about having the opportunity to coach these kids," Ryland said. "We have a lot of strong sprinters and jumpers on our team and talent across the board, so I expect us to do very well this season."
MAU should excel in the sprinting, mid-distance and jumping events this year, according to Ryland.
Starting with the boys squad, the Patriots will be very strong in the field events with the reigning Vermont State indoor track long jump champion Skyler Hoyt leading the way.
The sophomore will look to make back to back seasons as a state champ in the long jump, along with competing in the high jump and being a sprinter too, racing in the 100 and 400 meter events as well.
"I'm really excited about this season. The whole team looks really good and I think we'll all have good seasons," Hoyt said. "The goal is to be at the top again for the long jump and the high jump. Competition in the spring is very tough with a lot of strong competitors, so I know I'm going to have to step up my game if I want to win another state championship."
On the track side, the boys have a very talented sprinting group, with seniors Tanner Jelley and Alan Bernard at the top of the list.
"We have a very strong sprinter core and we can run with the best of them," Jelley said. "I feel like I'm faster and stronger then I was last season and the sprinters look really good going into the start of the season. I think we can do a lot of big things this year."
Incoming freshman Austin Martinka will also be a top sprinter for the Patriots and is expected to score points in jumping events too.
Sophomore Aaron Mattison, junior Nick Anderson and freshman Evan Page are all expected to be key contributors for the Patriots this season, with Mattison adding depth in the jumping and throwing events, while Anderson and Page will lead up the MAU mid-distance and distance events.
On the girls side, senior and captain Asuka Kosaki and juniors Abbie Crosier and Abby Whitman will head up the sprinting and mid-distance races for the Patriots, while junior Sophia Prandini tops the field portion for MAU as the Patriots' top thrower.
Senior Erica Hale could fill in any number of spots in the middle distances, while Makayla Gelheiser, Paige Greenawalt and Sarahi Villa Arreguin will be key as returners this season.
"We have a lot of talent and I think we can have a very good season," Kosaki said. "We are really strong in distance and sprinting and we have more girls on the team from last year, which will help win more points in meets too."
With both the boys and girls squads filled with a lot of talent and promise, Ryland believes that the team is more then capable of achieving goals both personally and collectively as a group this season.
"As a overall team we want to be successful and use that to help achieve our personal goals," Ryland said. "That could be qualifying for states, winning states or getting a personal record. Being successful as a team will help our kids reach their own personal goals and we have talent to do just that."
MAU is scheduled to compete in their first meet of the season today against Rutland.
Their first home meet of the season is set for Friday at 4 p.m.