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Wagner creates culture of competition at Boyle County

When Brent Wagner took the head track and field coaching role at Boyle County, he called his friend Randy Newberry at LaRue County.

“I told him ‘I’m going to learn all the rules and regulations, know every detail about every event, that way I’ll know everything about all the events,’” Wagner said. “He said, ‘great, that’s the dumbest thing you can possibly do.’ He said that doesn’t mean anything. He said, ‘how do you get faster in track and field? You go get faster kids.’ He said, ‘all your focus needs to be on getting athletes.’ I said, ‘well that makes sense.’”

And that’s exactly what Wagner has done.

Wagner has made track and field a powerhouse program at Boyle County: The Rebels have won three straight state championships on the girls side and won their first-ever on the boys side in 2018.

The Rebels will unquestionably be one of the top teams in the state next year, too.

Wagner said winning the Bill Vaught Memorial Coach of the Year award was a huge honor — because the award isn’t just about winning.

“It’s extremely cool,” Wagner said. “Just for the simple fact that it shows that what we’ve been doing is working. It means a lot that we’re making a big impact on kids and the impact that we have is more than just gold medals and running their best, it’s an actual impact that we have. We have a moment, a memory that we can impact on someone else’s life. That’s a big deal, that’s huge. We’re more than performances, running laps.”

When Wagner read what his assistant coaches said in the weekend edition of the Advocate-Messenger, he had one beef with something Seth Tamme said.

“I don’t not eat on purpose, I just forget to eat,” Wagner laughed. “They ask what I ate today and I really don’t know. I don’t call it obsessed, I would call it extremely focused.”

Tamme joked that Wagner “doesn’t eat or sleep,” and it’s not far from the truth. Wagner’s always thinking about how he can make his program better.

“My focus has been building an atmosphere that kids want to be a part of and make it exciting,” Wagner said. “I did the whole social media thing in my first year and I got my first follower and said, ‘OK. I’m ready.’ But I envisioned all this stuff beforehand, now it’s just a matter of getting it to where I wanted it to be. I had to act like it was four, five years down the road. You build it with a big vision and do everything you can to get there.”

It might’ve been Wagner who created the atmosphere, but he said it takes his stellar staff of assistants to complete the mission.

“They do so much more of the ins and outs, day to day in their event,” Wagner said. “It’s competitive with the athletes and the coaching staff, when they do well I give them credit. They take individual pride in their specific points. Every assistant coach I’ve had, I’ve looked at them and said, ‘OK, this meet is going to come down to you.’”

Wagner’s in constant contact with each of his coaches and always has their back. He’s all about learning and improving — for himself, his coaches and his team.

“At the end of the day, no coach has won anything without good assistants,” he said. “I’ve been very, very blessed to have these people come into the program and take that pride in wanting to get better. I have total faith and trust in them, I don’t have to micromanage everything they do. I’m all about learning lessons, so if they think they need to do a drill or make a drill up, go do it. If they believe in it, I believe in it. I know we’re getting better every day. It’s awesome, the fact that they have that personal pride in getting their athletes to where they need to be.”