Winter track utilizes longer preparatory period

Athletes view the part of the season before meets as crucial to readying their bodies for upcoming competition. The winter track teams started their season on December 1, getting right to work preparing for their first full-team meet on January 7 at Princeton University’s Jadwin Gymnasium.

Head Girls Coach James Smirk said, “Preseason is focused upon a couple of components [such as] building total endurance [and] a lot of fundamental lift patterns, so we incorporate a lot of the Olympic lifts, working on base training, good motor patterns, and flexibility.”

“Preseason has a big part to play because if you go into the season with no endurance, you’re going to get injured right away,” said Joe Gray ’15.

“Our success this year will be based on consistent, quality training,” said Smirk.

With the first meet much later than all of the first games for other winter sports, preparation is the sole December focus and athletes have more time than usual to train consistently. With such a long time to train, the team hopes to be in shape to dominate at Jadwin, although some athletes have had more time to practice than others. Almost the entire distance team is made up of cross country runners who have spent months training, while the sprinters and jumpers have more variation in the length of their preseason preparation.

Amy Watsky ’17 runs sprints during practice on December 12. photo: Annie Gao

Amy Watsky ’17 runs sprints during practice on
December 12.
photo: Annie Gao

Overall, Smirk said, “What we’re looking for our athletes to do is perform well in relation to their training. If they are year-round runners, then their training system is going to be different than a kid who is just coming out for winter.”

Gray, who has been holding captain’s practices for a few months, said, “Preseason really starts around the same time cross country starts. It’s nice to have that extra time just to get into shape in order to not get hurt early in the season.”

Ending her cross country season early, Maia Hauschild ’16 also worked with a few of the other girls sprinters to be ready for December 1, completing track workouts and lifts. “We [were] on our own in terms of preseason … so we [were] kind of relying on everyone putting in the individual work,” said Hauschild. “Our team is pretty young, so we are just looking for everyone to grow as an athlete over this season.”

On the boys’ end, Gray is expecting a lot from Jeremy Cohen ’16 and Alex Ratzan ’17.  “Those are just two young guns who should be able to power us through,” said Gray.  “Right now, there are [also] some new young guys that show promise.”

Smirk is looking for both Hauschild and Gray, now leaders of their events, to have big seasons for the sprints.

On the distance side, regarding Lou Mialhe ’16 and Paige Metzheiser ’15, Smirk said, “They [should] compete well but not at their best. We want them setting national level [personal records] come spring.” Smirk structures the girls’ training so that they will fully peak in the spring.

Although the majority of the athletes have a longer preparatory period before their first meet, Gray and Metzheiser will compete in an additional elite meet at The Armory in New York City on December 20. These meets offer athletes the chance to run events not normally offered in dual meets, such as the 600-meter race, and to compete against competitors that are more skilled than their usual opponents. Athletes running in the elite meets must structure their training plans differently than their teammates in terms of continuing quality workouts so as to peak at the right time.

Still, Smirk said, “We really look at the winter as a preparatory season, but we are still competitive, and when we are there to race, we are there to win and learn.”


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