Woes of the trackless track team | SummitDaily.com

Woes of the trackless track team

FARMER’S KORNER – The Summit High School track and field team has had to leap over more hurdles than it bargained for this season.

When coaches took their jobs prior to the beginning of the season in February, they thought their track team would at least have a track.

The team will move into regional competition Thursday at Elizabeth with just one week of outdoor practice under its belt.

“(Monday) was the first day our track was open,” said SHS sprint coach Gary Adamson. “We’ve been running in the hallways all season.”

Track coaches had to resort to clearing snow off the track themselves, working for hours at a time to get one lane cleared.

“When stepping in and taking the position, it was something I had never anticipated would be a stumbling block,” said head coach Sandy Padjen. “I anticipated colder weather, I anticipated a much smaller team, but I never thought there would be conflicts within the school district about getting our track cleared. As a track coach, it’s just assumed the school will do what’s necessary to clear the track so we can practice.”

SHS athletic director Gretchen Nies said the school’s maintenance department did not clear the track of snow all season because of damage the track sustained last season when coaches attempted to clear snow themselves with a snowblower.

“We have in the past cleared our track every season at the beginning of March to accommodate track practice, but we’ve had to be a lot more careful,” said Nies, who, as a former track coach of 14 years with SHS, sympathizes with the team’s need to have a track and with what she calls the “administrative responsibility” to protect the track from damage. She said the cost of last year’s damage was considerable.

“What our maintenance department said was the track sustained $4,000 worth of damage last year. I have been bucking all season long to come up with some solutions that would remove some of the snow.”

Undamaged as it might have been under a layer of snow this spring, the tradeoff was for the track to go unused, and, according to track coaches, athletes suffered for it.

“Without the track surface, we’ve had a lot of kids with shin splints and knee problems,” Padjen said. “It’s been a little more difficult to keep the kids motivated and focused on their events. The biggest stumbling block has been for our hurdlers. Indoors, the kids were jumping the hurdles because they had to on the cement and they had too much spring when they went over them on the track.”

Nies said the school’s maintenance department is looking into non-damaging options to clear the track of snow in March, and, weather dependent, keep it cleared for the duration of the SHS track season.

“They need to look at what they can do to keep the track cleared,” Padjen said. “Because you don’t want to risk damaging the track, you’d rather risk sending your youth into competition unprepared and having them walk away somewhat demoralized at some of the early meets. One meet this season, we had three relays disqualified, including the 4 by 8 (hundred meter). In relays, it’s difficult to get things like handoffs down when you’re practicing in hallways. We have a lot of kids that work really hard. But, you can’t really have track without a track to run on.”

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