Gun goes off for track and field season

BY KATIE EDER —

For the track and field team, which began their season on March 7, success against other teams is just as important as fostering a strong sense of community within their own.

“I think everyone is really excited,” said Ari Schermer, senior and pole vaulter. “But there are so many different groups between different events.”

Alison Reinhoffer, senior and distance runner, has been working to bring the team together.

“Within the distance girls team, we are great. It’s just like the cross-country team and we’re all very close,” Reinhoffer said. “But with the whole team, it is kind of tough because we have all types of people, not just cross-country runners. We have a gymnast doing poll vault now. We have football players who are doing throws and jumps and so there is such a much bigger diversity in people compared to cross country … I have been trying to have inter-event mingling happen. The other day I made everyone go around and say their names and talk about their favorite events. I think we’re on the path to have a tighter knit team as a whole.”

Dominic Newman, head coach, agrees that track and field causes distance between events.

“That’s just the nature of the events,” Newman said. “We all have different training, but we are on a time crunch. My goal is to get the practice done in an hour in half to two hours.”

Sarah Kopplin, assistant coach, said she thinks it also makes the sport unique.

16 track
(Olivia Loomis) Makayla Stephens, sophomore, and Keya Glosson, junior, warmup during a track practice. This season, the team is focused on helping new athletes adjust to the sport and building a community.

“I personally think that is what makes the sport so special because you have throwers, and vaulters, and sprinters and hurdlers and distance people who are doing these really amazing events and then you come together as a team at a meet and you really see everybody and what they are doing and how they can showcase their talent,” Kopplin said. “We have to make a bit of an effort outside of practice or before or after progress to bring people together.”

According to Newman, it’s also difficult with so many new athletes this season.

“We are a young team,” Newman said. “We might not be young by class, by freshman or sophomores, but we have a lot of new athletes out for the first time so they’re rookies. They’re inexperienced, and I’m anxious to see what they can do.”

According to Kopplin, the team is still very strong.

“It’s been a good start in terms of people who really want to stick with track and field, learn the skills of the events, get in shape,” Kopplin said. “We have kind of formalized our team now.”

After taking second place at state last year, the team is preparing to win first this year.

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(Olivia Loomis) Boys distance runners push themselves during a workout.

“I’m excited for state,” Schermer said. “It’s a really big deal in track, and that’s where we are going to show Shorewood how good we are.”

“I think keeping in mind why we are working is so hard,” said Josh Melton, junior. “You know when you are wishing you are dead, laying around the ground after a split 600, you don’t really want to go to state afterward. You don’t want to do anything afterward. It’s hard to remember why are you doing it, so we just really have to keep that in mind.”

Kopplin agrees there will be obstacles.

“Weather is always a big challenge in track season,” Kopplin said. “Another challenge is keeping people healthy. It’s a very stressful time of the year, going into the last quarter of the school year, … we see the strain on student athletes … and it can really affect you when you are doing something athletic.”

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(Olivia Loomis) Sprinters complete active warmups at the start of practice. The track team is working on bringing these athletes closer together.

According to Newman, the team is also facing difficulties with team numbers.

“The first day of practice, when we got the master list, we had a 105 student athletes interested in track and field,” Newman said. “When the season started it dwindled to about 85. Now, I only see about 35 athletes here.”

Kopplin is looking forward to the progress of the whole team.

“I really am looking forward to watching people who are starting the sport as a new athlete just find confidence in themselves and learn something new,” Kopplin said. “For me, it’s really gratifying when you watch this person go from never having done this before to mastering something that is really technically and physically challenging.”

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