Running into Track After a Year Off
After the 2020 track season was canceled due to the coronavirus, many track athletes missed a year of conditioning and practicing technique. This year's sophomores have never participated in track and last year's seniors lost out on their last track season.
According to Head Coach Scott Trimble, “It’s been 20 months since we competed. Many technical events, such as field events, have lost development.”
These technical events include pole vault, hurdles, throwing, and the jumps such as long jump and triple jump.
Trimble also believes the missed season has hurt participation in the sport.
This year’s high school track and field team consists of 14 athletes doing a wide variety of events.
To help prepare for the upcoming season, Trimble states, “We focus on what each individual event demands. For example, for sprinters we work on explosive workouts, for long distance we pound in the miles and work on endurance. For field events we work on the technique. Workouts are oftentimes tailored to the athlete’s events.”
Since track season begins in March and runs through May, the weather is not always ideal. Rain, snow, and freezing temperatures are often experienced throughout the season.
“The elements are part of track, whether it is hot, cold, wet, windy, or all of the above. We try to practice in it as much as we can because we’ll compete in it as well, but it’s hard to get the work we need in without being unsafe. So we make sure to be safe and sometimes we stay inside,” said Trimble.
When asked how the team prepares when they are stuck inside due to weather, Trimble said, “We try to get in explosive workouts without too much impact. Since the indoors are not good track surfaces, we work on cardio and technique.”
Just like any other sport, track athletes can get injured throughout the season. To reduce the chance of injuries, Trimble puts his team through an extensive warm-up which includes a variety of stretches.
These preventative measures help reduce the possibility of an injury, but sometimes they do still happen. The most common way to treat an injury is icing the pain and stretching, but other tension reducing techniques are available, such as cold laser therapy and a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. A trainer also comes to the school once a week.
Besides a series of stretches to warm up, Trimble tailors the athletes’ work-outs to prepare their bodies for the season.
“It’s a progression. We don’t jump straight into the hardest workouts. We build up the conditioning and this preparation can also help eliminate injuries. We have to find the balance between being over conditioned and under conditioned. I like to have the athletes peaking at the end of the season,” declared Trimble.
Even with all the preparation and preventative measures, athletes still get injured. Sophomore Alyssa Ferguson twisted her ankle during the first week of practice.
“It wasn’t too terrible, but it’s still a little bit blue and swollen. Thankfully I’ve been able to get back to running as usual pretty quickly. I iced it a ton. Ice, glutathione, and rest were the main components to my quick recovery,” said Ferguson.
Her injury halted her ability to practice for a few days.
She mentioned, “It was frustrating because I was super excited to start running again and get back in shape, and then I had to wait.”
Ferguson is a long-distance runner and will participate in the two mile, one mile, and possibly some faster races. To prepare, she does stride-outs and other form exercises, but mainly, she runs.
According to Ferguson, “I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from running. It’s also a great way to relieve stress.”
When asked her favorite part of track practice, Ferguson mentioned, “I love that we all have fun and mess around together. We still are focused and get done what we need to get done, but there’s never a dull moment with this team.”
Freshman Lathem Schumm is also a long-distance runner. He plans to participate in the two mile, as well as the four 4x800 meter relay and triple jump.
“I do track to stay in shape and I really enjoy running with my friends,” said Schumm.
Thankfully, when running and doing workouts outside, athletes can forgo the masks as long as they stay socially distanced. Although they have to wear them inside, the chance to take off the mask for practice is very beneficial.
Due to COVID-19, track meets are also different. Masks are required to enter for all athletes and fans. Fans are recommended to wear their masks at all times, but may take them off if they are socially distanced. Athletes are recommended to wear their masks between events, but they do not have to wear them while competing.
There will be eight track meets, as well as District track. The first track meet, slated to happen Thursday, March 25, takes place at Sutton. Due to weather conditions, the Sutton meet has not taken place in four years.
The state track meet, which was originally scheduled to take place on May 21 and May 22, has also been adjusted. To reduce crowding, state track for Class D and A will be Wednesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 20.
This four-day schedule allows fans and athletes to maintain higher levels of social distancing. The same mask requirements apply.
Even with a small group, Trimble expects to send a few athletes to state track.
He stated, “We have a good group this year. They get after it, do their work, and have good attitudes.”