Scott VanFleet isn’t too hard to find at any track and field meet. The longtime Medina girls coach can usually be spotted in a crowd due to his prominent Tennessee Volunteers hat and matching orange tennis shoes.
The catch is, VanFleet typically perches in the stands at a meet, watching his team perform with his trusted assistant coaches.
You’ll have to forgive the coach. He just enjoys watching everything come together.
“We’d talk about it amongst the coaches that it was so much fun to just watch the meet and watch them compete,” VanFleet said. “The mixture of veterans and freshmen and two-year and three-year girls, that was the key. A lot of the younger kids relied on the older ones that had been there, done that, and it all melted together.”
VanFleet’s calm demeanor was something athletes thrived on during a record-setting season that included school records and the first Amherst Division I Regional championship, making VanFleet an easy choice as Gazette Spring Coach of the Year.
“He makes you feel relaxed,” junior Juliette Keller said. “It helps us stay calm before a race knowing that he’s calm and that he’s confident in you.
“No matter what, he’s always there for you. Even when you’re feeling down, he’s there to lift you up. He’s just a nice guy.”
The puzzle pieces that were the 2019 Bees seemed to fit together perfectly. After sweeping six dual meets, Medina took second at the Greater Cleveland Conference Meet and won the Brunswick District. That led to the historic team victory at the Amherst Regional, which included three sprint relays recording school-record times and 10 athletes qualifying for state among four relays and three individual-event participants.
With one of the deepest rosters in his 25-year tenure, VanFleet had lineup options on a weekly basis.
“When you get the freshmen coming in, you really don’t know what you have at the beginning, but our depth this year was something that I’ve never seen before,” the 59-year-old said. “We had choices pretty much across the board as to what we wanted to do, and it allowed us not to hurt anyone by racing them in four events every meet. I think that paid off for us at the end of the year.”
The Bees followed their impressive regional performance, which included three relays and two individuals winning titles, with more hardware at state.
When Medina got to Columbus, the 4x800 of Jessica Campbell, Carmela Henning, Juliette Keller and Valerie Suttman opened with a program-record time to place fifth.
It was the first of many All-Ohio medals the Bees collected on the weekend, as Gazette MVP Keller placed fifth in the 1,600 and helped the 4x4 to fourth with Katie Smith, Rachel Smith and Angela Dobson.
Katie Smith ran with Haley Anspach, Mary Beth Blakemore and Alli Pankow on the state-placing 4x2, while Henning and Suttman competed in the 800.
The state meet was the end of a season-long process that began during the indoor season and continued through the grueling GCC and weekend schedule that Medina navigates on a yearly basis.
That experience alone was enough for VanFleet to sit and watch calmly as opposed to standing on the fence and barking at each of his athletes as he held a stopwatch.
He knew the work would pay off.
“That was the biggest thing to me — how well we competed at the end of the year,” VanFleet said. “Everybody posted best times, best performances in the biggest meets. That’s really all you can hope. You hate for them to run great in April and then not run great in May and June, but we stayed the course and they really responded well.”