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Track team makes do despite winter weather

Unable to jump indoors, the West Fargo High track team pole vaulters work on proper technique in the school commons. David Samson / Forum News Service1 / 2
Having Veterans Memorial Arena to run in makes it easier for the Packers to cope with winter training, according to head coach Darin McKinnon. David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 2

This time of year, walking through the halls of West Fargo High School after 3:30 p.m. means you will likely have to step out of the way of a stampeding group of Packer track athletes.

With the winter sports season finally over, the coaches now have a full team to train for all track and field events.

“We are just trying to get everybody in the places they need to be, and getting to know the new faces,” head coach Darin McKinnon said. “So far, we have been pretty happy. We have a nice returning group from last year. We have a nice group of seniors who I think will do well in terms of leadership and performance, but it is always nice to have the new incoming group of underclassmen.”

While they are adapting to the roles they are in, the team has spent the past four weeks training indoors, a practice that can eventually be worrisome for the coaches and athletes.

“The biggest concern we have with that is the potential for injury,” McKinnon said. “Running on tile floors can take a toll on the legs, so we have to be very careful about how we train indoors. It is a whole different world training on something like this compared to the track facility that we have.”

While the runners and jumpers can develop cabin fever during the early weeks of the season, there is an even greater sense of discomfort for participants of the pole vault, discus toss and javelin toss, whose ability to practice their craft is severely limited inside, according to their coach.

“You can’t throw a javelin or disc indoors,” McKinnon said. “We have some drills to work on technique, but you can’t have a full throw. It can be frustrating for those athletes, probably more so than runners. They are really limited.”

McKinnon says that his athletes understand that spring sport athletes are “at the mercy” of Mother Nature, but believes his team doesn’t have it as bad as other teams in the area, thanks to Veterans Memorial Arena being in the same building.

“We have a luxury here that other schools don’t have, where we can just walk into an arena with a track around it,” McKinnon said. “We can’t thank West Fargo Parks enough for what they have done for us. Having the arena and the access to it is definitely a big plus.”

The coaching feels that being kept indoors is actually more frustrating for the coaches than for the athletes, as the coaches have to struggle to find the ideal runners, jumpers and throwers for each event to provide the team with the greatest chance to win meets.

“We are always looking for balance on the track and in the field,” McKinnon said. “What we try to do is take advantage of all events and maximize our points throughout the course of the season. That is one of the things we are always looking for: putting kids in places where not only they can be successful, but where the team can be successful. We don’t want to be weighted too much in some places and not enough in others.”

The team is set to compete at the Bison Sports Arena at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.