Spring track and field hopes to increase team unity with use of new facilities

Despite harsh winter weather at the beginning of March, the track and field teams prepare for their spring season with confidence and high hopes for breaking new records in their general season and postseason meets. Due to the snow and ice, the track teams had been mainly restricted to practicing inside, either in the PHS weight room or at Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym. According to Joe Gray ’15, the teams could adjust well to different training circumstances caused by inclement weather.

“On days when we didn’t have Jadwin, we just worked more on speed and agility, so I don’t think [the difficulty with the track] has really affected our performance,” said Maia Hauschild ’16.

“We can’t control the weather, so we just roll with the punches,” said James Smirk, head coach of the girls team. “I think [the snow-covered track] hurts the skill events a little bit more—like the jumpers, the throwers, and the sprinters—than it hurts the distance runners. With distance, we can get through until the weather clears.”

Joe Gray ‘15 practices sprints on the newly renovated track at Princeton High School.  photo: Nathan Drezner

Joe Gray ‘15 practices sprints on the newly renovated track at Princeton High School.
photo: Nathan Drezner

Another factor that helped the team work throughout the inclement weather was the anticipation of getting to use the newly renovated facilities once it gets warmer.

“Having a new track definitely changes the way … we focus on training, like going from primarily plyo workouts to actual sprinting,” Gray said.

“We use [plyos] to develop power and explosiveness. These drills work on developing a lot of force in a short amount of time, by strengthening fast-twitch muscle fibers,” said Ben Samara, the jumping and sprinting coach.

Not only will the new track change the strategical aspects of how the team practices, but it will also provide more widespread pragmatic benefits, such as providing the team with a facility for its home meets.

“I’m hoping to see a little home-field advantage as well as less time spent traveling [to meets],” said Lou Mialhe ’16.

Another foreseen effect of the new track is that it will add to the team’s unity. Shot put, javelin, and discus athlete Sean Reifinger ’15 has noticed drastic changes in the team’s cohesion since the start of the season. “We do warm-ups and cool-downs together,” Reifinger said. “We can interact more.” Without a track, the throwing team had to conduct its warm-ups either inside the high school or use available facilities at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“Now we’re all able to practice together as a whole team. Before all the field people had to be separated from the distance runners and the sprinters [in order to use open facilities],” Reifinger said. According to Reifinger, the team discusses its goals for each practice during warm-up activities—another reason why practicing together is beneficial.

“Since we all are going to have the opportunity to go outside every day and have a team meeting, I think that will really help,” Hauschild said. “Also, being able to train on the track that we’ll be competing on every day will be really helpful.”
The team’s practices on and off the track so far have been training-group specific. Distance runners are focusing on building up more volume, while the jumpers and throwers are doing a combination of workouts, drills, and lifting.

“We’re looking to improve athletes’ skills in the weight room and developing skill sets they need for later in the season to train at a higher level,” Smirk said. The athletes are hoping that this method will not only take them far in their regular season, but also at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Tournament in June.

“For nationals, we definitely want to qualify all the relays we did last season. We were in the sprint medley relay and the super sprint medley relay,” Hauschild said. “This year, a new [event] we want to add is a distance medley relay that will include some of our distance runners, and they’ll be able to travel to nationals too.”

While preparing for success in the postseason, the teams have to compensate for a change in their rosters as a result of new athletes. “I think this season we just need to let our team grow because we lost a lot of valuable people last year … so we’re looking to teach the young athletes and have the team grow as a whole,” Hauschild said.

Besides team success, many of the runners, jumpers, and throwers are hoping to see their personal goals fulfilled this year. “I hope to finish off my senior year with several national races and hopefully a few more school records. I’ve been focusing on maintaining my health as well as just improving my overall fitness. The rest just comes down to how I race,” Gray said.

While the athletes often base their goals on the individual moments that occur while racing, coaches stress the importance of long-term strategizing as well. “Our plan for the season isn’t really just a season plan,” Smirk said. “It’s [to think about] how this season affects a year down the road, two years, four years down the road.”

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