Posted Online: March 20, 2013, 9:02 pm

New coach, same expectations at UT

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
United Township high school new boys track coach Evan Holschbach, second from right, talks with team members Levi Perry, left, Ben Jackson, and Tireni Ajibola during a resent work out.
Evan Holschbach never experienced any nerves going from an assistant to the United Township boys' track coach.

"It's been an easy transition," Holschbach said.

What makes Holschbach so confident is continuing the philosophy that made the Panthers so successful in recent years. Maintaining an experienced coaching staff and developing a total-team mentality enable UT to continue moving forward as though nothing has changed.

In reality, the only difference is the name of the head coach.

Other than that, the status quo remains.

"I'm not changing a lot of things," said Holschbach, a former Augustana sprinter who spent the previous three seasons as the UT jumps coach. "I want to make sure the team is as successful as it has been. Ideally, I'd like to be more successful than we have been."

Taking success to another level is a bold move considering UT has won or shared the last five Western Big 6 Conference titles and earned two consecutive top 10 finishes at the Class 3A state meet. With Bob Feller as the head coach, the Panthers were good because they were good in everything.

Now in his first season as head coach, Holschbach wants to make sure that does not stop.

"It helps already having success to continue it," Holschbach said.

To keep the Panthers competitive, most of the coaching staff remains in place. Other than a new head coach, nothing really is different.

Holschbach, who earned a school-record five state medals during his prep career at Princeton, wants to leave his imprint on the program, but knows the Panthers are good because of assistant coaches such as Chris Wallaert, Jim Wesselman and Gary Phillips.

Keeping familiar faces around helps ease the transition. With the right people in place, the team works to ensure every event remains competitive so the Panthers can extend their Big 6 streak.

"That's the goal," Holschbach said. "There's not a part of me that says we don't have a chance."

Moving forward with that goal, UT stresses "the little things" that were a major part of its recent success. During a recent workout on a chilly afternoon at the Soule Bowl, the sprinters worked on proper handoffs during a relay.

A bad handoff resulted in push-ups.

When it comes time for the Panthers to compete for championships, those details are critical. No wonder they have been so strong for so long.

"It's tremendously important for the kids to be winners because we want the kids to be winners in life," Holschbach said. "I want them to find success because I want them to find success after they graduate. I want them to know what it takes to find success."

In recent years, that has not been a problem. Because of that, Holschbach keeps everything the same.

"It hasn't been trying to brainwash to be successful," Holschbach said. "All the upperclassmen have known a lot of success and done the hard work themselves. They know they can do it."

Most of all, Holschbach believes he is the right person to make sure the Panthers can do it again.

"I am confident," Holschbach said. "It's mostly because we still have that great coaching staff."