Byline: Marty Maciaszek
Halford's track number comes up a winner at Carmel
Most new track and field coaches trying to build a program generally say the same thing:
Have to get the numbers up.
The funny thing for Jim Halford when he took over 12 years ago at Carmel was the numbers dropped. Almost in half.
"When I first came on quite a few kids, a lot of kids, just came out," Halford said. "Like it was an intramural-type thing."
But a few Saturday practices changed that and Halford said the not-so-committed "decided they'd go their merry way."
Determination wasn't something Halford has lacked. Without it, Carmel wouldn't be shooting for its third consecutive East Suburban Catholic Conference track title tomorrow at Benet.
Without it, Halford and the Corsairs most likely wouldn't have won even one. Which is something few within the school walls thought the Mundelein High School graduate would accomplish when he first arrived.
A change in attitude was one of the initial adjustments for a sport that wasn't regarded as important as it is at other places. Or as important as it is by Halford.
"It was more of a recreational thing," Halford said. "They didn't take it very seriously. We really started to really, really work people hard."
Thus, the numbers dropped. Probably didn't look like the way to take on Marist, the conference powerhouse from the South Side.
"The priest who used to have the program, he told me they used to call it the University of Marist," Halford said. "They have so many boys and a real good program.
"The first thing I said to the kids is I want to get 'em."
Before finally getting Marist, however, Carmel delivered some solid shots that came up just short.
One year everyone performed well for the Corsairs. Still, they were 1 point behind when it was over.
In another there was a false start in a race where Carmel was the heavy favorite. It proved to be the difference in the meet.
Even Halford wondered and agonized if it would ever happen at Carmel.
"It got real discouraging for awhile," Halford said.
"I'm the type of guy who used to take it way too personally. I never gave up the idea of winning the conference.
"It was taking its toll on me."
But Halford never gave up the idea of having an ESCC track championship banner in the Carmel gym. Ironically, the breakthrough came two years ago when the conference meet was held at home on a Saturday afternoon. …