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The Carroll County track and field team is strong. Literally.
Head coach Joe Creager said his team’s strengths this year will lie in the field events: jumping and throwing. The team also boasts a large number of juniors and seniors – four seniors and five juniors for the girls and three seniors and nine juniors for the boys. Unfortunately, not all of them have track and field experience.
Creager said the team has few distance runners and no experienced high jumpers after losing state qualifiers Dylan Jack and Andie Hardesty to graduation. A couple athletes have expressed interest in the event, but will be completely new to it.
The team returns two seniors who took their junior year off: Lauren Holloway and Nora Fremin. Holloway competed in the 300-meter hurdles. While she competed in multiple events as a sophomore, Creager said Fremin is focusing solely on the 100-meter hurdles this season. Her ultimate goal is to be state champion in the event; she finished second as a sophomore, the head coach said.
Coaches Creager and assistant coach Dan McCrocklin have already seen improvement from a number of their new players.
Senior Brandon Franklin, junior Josh Gibbs and freshman Maricela Martinez have each grown significantly in the shot put, despite having no previous experience. Even though he has not been able to practice outside, junior Cody Osborne has improved by four feet in four meets in the long jump, impressing his coaches. Osborne came into the season with little long jump experience and all at the JV level.
The weather has been a major obstacle so far this season.
“It’s been frustrating, but only because it’s deceivingly cold and so wet,” Creager said. Had it been warmer, the team would be practicing outside, even if it were raining, he said. But so far, it’s been too cold, as the team doesn’t practice outside if it is below 40 degrees.
The team practices in the conditioning center two to three days a week. The team can practice indoor shot and use cheerleading mats for high jump and pole vault drills. However, it is limiting due to the shorter distance. Those running the hurdles can also run a shorter course inside, practicing the height and distance of the hurdles.
The other two days a week are spent inside the high school, working on conditioning drills, such as running stairs, and on core workouts.
Creager said he did not think his team would have as difficult of a transition from indoor to outdoor competition because they have already participated in four meets this season. Those who have only participated in one or two could be in for a big shock, he said. He also is comforted by the fact that all of the other teams have dealt with the same weather issues.
Not only will the student-athletes be ready for the new season, but the high school track should be as well.
Creager said he talked to a KHSAA official on the phone about the issues at the track. As a short-term solution, no spikes will be allowed on the long jump and the triple jump, and the school will need to get an additional pad to cover the high jump area. This is because the rubberized surface on top of the asphalt has some cracks in it, and running with spikes on asphalt is a slip hazard. The existing high jump pad will be moved to cover up a hole, so the school will need to put down extra foam padding.
Other than those fixes, the track is fine for now, but will need to be addressed in the future, Creager said.
Creager said his goal for the season is to go to state again.
“I’m pretty excited about having a meet here Tuesday,” he said. “It gets us a good opportunity to showcase our skills at home, so we’re kind of in our own comfort zone. I always like starting out the season at home.”
Unfortunately, the team’s first home meet Tuesday, March 12 was cancelled due to previous weather conditions. The team will host two more home meets this season, one on March 26 and the other on April 12.