The distance covered by the Paint Rock High boys’ track and field team over coach Fisher Pyburn’s first seven years can’t be measured by a stopwatch.
Back then, just three players came out for tryouts, and to this day the Indians are still forced to travel 20 miles each day just to use another school’s track for practice.
But at Paint Rock, perseverance has become an art form, with the program building to the point of winning the school’s first district title ever in 2018.
“It’s taken a lot to build things up to this level,” Pyburn told Texas Scorecard. “We’ve had to fight through a lot of struggle and adversity, but we’ve always had our commitment.”
Pyburn, who also serves as cross country coach, said part of what’s helped build the program is students coming to admire the hard-earned accomplishments of some of their peers.
“We’ve always been pretty good in distance running and the kids have seen the attention that’s meant for some of the kids on the team,” he said. “I guess you could say we’ve learned to thrive at feeding off of each other’s success.”
With the junior trio of sprinter Travis Bowen and long distance runners Caden Harlow and Pato Ponce, there doesnt figure to be any shortage of highlights for Paint Rock this season.
Pyburn describes Bowen as “having a lot of heart,” while Harlow and Ponce both advanced to at least the regional finals last season.
The Indians also boast an influx of young talent this season that Pyburn said he is hopeful will pay immediate dividends.
“We’re excited about our chances,” he said. “We think we’re ready for the moment.”
But Pyburn is quick to add Paint Rock can hardly prosper without finding a way to maintain the one ingredient that has come to sustain them.
“I think we have to stay passionate and continue to love one another the way we have through all the struggle,” he said. “When care about one another, you’re willing to work that much harder for your teammates.”