COLUMBIA CITY—The Columbia City High School girls track team is off to an enthusiastic start.

New head coach Tyler Kissinger is ready to lead the Lady Eagles into a strong season.

“A lot of the girls show enthusiasm,” he said, “and they made it a whole lot easier to transition over compared to what I thought it was going to be. Their attitudes are up there, they work really hard every day, and they’re already setting stuff that they were hoping to set, and willing to push past and try to improve on that as well.”

Kissinger takes over from CCHS coaching legend Bob Fahl, who led the girls track team for decades.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “Nervous — but excited.”

Kissinger is a Class of 2012 graduate of CCHS, and participated in track from sixth grade through graduation. He attended Ball State University, where he continued to be involved in running clubs, and currently is a physical education teacher at Little Turtle Elementary School. He previously coached at Yorktown High School and Indian Springs Middle School.

“It feels good to be coaching with (boys track head coach Ryan Trieschman) too,” Kissinger said.

Trieschman coached Kissinger when the latter played football at CCHS.

“It’s a little strange,” Trieschman added. “I’ve been at Columbia City now for 10 years, and I’m starting to see people return.”

Kissinger complimented his assistant coaches Mark Schaefer and Angie Smith on helping the team improve.

“They’ve been doing a great job,” Kissinger said, “pushing (the girls) and doing the things that we have to do to make ourselves a better track team.”

The Lady Eagles are returning several strong athletes this year.

“Our highest point-getters are Lillie and Eden (Oddou), the twins, and then also Macey Hill and Kendall Longenbaugh,” Kissinger said. “A lot of the points that I’ve seen came from them, so it’s nice to see them coming back.

“The nice thing about that is, they’re being leaders this year. I didn’t get to see them last year, but they’re helping other athletes on and off, helping them be well-rounded people as well.”

Additionally, junior Felicity Clawson’s shot put performance ranks her around 11th in the state, Kissinger said.

“There’s just a lot of people that are working really hard,” he said. “A lot of people, this is their first time out … It’s just nice having people wanting to come out, wanting to compete, and better themselves not only in track but for their other sports as well.”

He credited boys track head coach Ryan Trieschman with helping get new athletes to come out.

“I’m not in the high school, so he helps a lot with getting people to come out,” Kissinger said.

His main goal for the Lady Eagles is focusing on personal improvement.

“It’d be nice to be up there in conference, where the guys are at, but (my goal is) to have them set PRs and to move on in stuff that they didn’t really see last year,” he said, “just to make them improve every day, and get somewhere where they feel comfortable and feel like they’re able to put forth a competitive nature in every single meet that we’re in.

“I really want to see them push and encourage each other.”

Additionally, he’d like to see the girls win most — if not all — of their weekday meets.

“They’re putting forth so much effort,” Kissinger said. “They’re really trying. I go home singing their praises every night.

“It’s awesome. I’m stoked.”