Running into the spring season

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Photo Credit: Alethea Jadick

Rachel McMahon (’18) is amongst the many athletes who will begin spring track almost immediately after their winter season is complete. After working hard during the winter months track athletes are more than ready to get back onto the outdoor track for a successful spring season.

by Janice Lee, Staff Writer

The runners are at the starting line, feeling nervous, jogging in place. One minute later, “bam!” The gun sounds, and the runners take the first few strides of their highly anticipated spring season.

The spring track team had its first meeting on Jan. 30, 2017, when a discussion of the syllabus for the upcoming season, which starts on March 2, was held. Track is an individual sport, while the athletes all contribute to a common goal. Athletes strive to achieve their best marks, in an effort to earn as many points as possible for their team. In spring track, athletes can participate in not just sprinting or distance events, but events like hurdle jumping, pole vault, and throwing as well.  

It’s a sport that will make you a better athlete than any sport that you choose. It is a multi-disciplinary training sport. And it also can be very competitive. So if you play basketball, it will help you with your vertical jump and lateral movement. If you play football, it will help with your overall speed and your power. It’s very applicable to multi-sports,” head coach J.P. McCarten said.

The size of the team improved greatly since last year, when there were 104 members. In contrast, 140 members will participate in the upcoming season. Coaches for spring track remain unchanged from last year, including McCarten as the boys’ head coach, special education teacher Stacie Gallo as the girls’ head coach, math teacher Kristen Bradley as the jumpers coach, science teacher Brian Luckenbill as the distance coach, Carl Johnson as the pole vault, and Mr. Cocozzo as the throws coach.

Winter track athletes have been training since the last week of November to prepare for this upcoming spring season. The routine for practice will remain the same as well, beginning with the athletes warming up as a team. Then, athletes split off into their groups according to their event, which could be distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers, and throwers. Depending on the schedule, they’ll know if they have a workout or recovery day. During the meets, athletes will still have to be in matching uniform. Athletes are only allowed to run up to four events, which include relays.

“During practice, you just have to work hard. Listen to what the coach says. You prepare for meets that way. You just have to know when to work very hard and there’s also harder days or easier days so you need to know the difference between those” said Chris Theuerkauf (‘17), assistant captain of the track team.

The program was successful around the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The team won a lot of state championships. After that string of successes, though, the track program was less competitive. 

However, the spring track program is making a comeback. For example, both the boys and girls track team were back to back league champions over the last two years. Multiple athletes were also sent to compete in the State Meet of Champions. For the first time in the team’s history, two teams were sent to New Balance Nationals in North Carolina last spring. School records were also broken for the 400 meter, 600 meter and the shuttle hurdle relay.

“I think going to Nationals was awesome with two teams. Also winning the league again for boys and girls was a great experience,” Gallo said.

Although the team has improved greatly in size, there’s still lots of room for improvement.

“We can improve in preparation and recovery. We can improve in specifically our throwing program. We can improve in our depths in sprinting, jumps, and distance,” McCarten said.

Everyone, including coaches and athletes, are supportive of one another. Theuerkauf has been doing track since freshman year and thinks that it’s a really good sport to be involved in.

“What’s so appealing about this is that it’s a tough sport, but it’s not tough compared to other sports and it’s just a little more laid back. It’s also a good experience and you make a lot of new friends. It’s a great sport for beginners and for people that are really experienced,” Theuerkauf said.

While some are extremely competitive when it comes to spring track, others simply take it as an opportunity to branch out. Coaches encourage their athletes to get a feel for as many different aspects of the sport as possible.

“It’s good to be involved in something after school. And everything is geared to your level of ability. So you don’t have to be the fastest runner or go the longest but you could still participate and just because you can’t run doesn’t mean you can’t throw,” Gallo said.