The unpredictable weather of Canton has taken its toll on everyone. But when it becomes a team’s only way of training, the brisk, cold weather can make things a little more complicated.
The indoor track and field team has competed all season long with weather complications. But despite the unbearable weather, the Pioneers have managed to break through the barriers.
Breaking multiple school records this season, the team has made a run for its upcoming GLIAC Indoor Championship that will be held next weekend at Hillsdale College.
Snow can be an issue when throwers are preparing for field events outside, especially for a team that doesn’t have a facility to actually practice its crafts.
In previous years, the throwers would go to a warehouse to practice. This year they haven’t been able to use the facility but instead they found a way to practice on campus in the harsh weather.
“We don’t have a facility to work out in,” head coach Mark McClure said. “We bought a torch this year and blow off the circle to get it dried up so we can have good footing to throw. Along with the purchase of the torch, we bought an ice shelter. It is pretty sweet, and we put a heater in it to warm up a little before we go out.”
This winter has been cruel to field event participants, but it has not slowed them down from success this season. With constant support and intense competition from each other, the athletes have managed to break three records during the indoor season.
“Lindsey and I are the leaders as far as the throwers,” sophomore thrower Duke Taylor said. “We push each other and encourage each other in practice and at meets. That has created success for us.”
Taylor is ranked 16th in the nation and 9h in the conference in the weight throw. Taylor also broke the school weight throw record.
Lyndsey Bates is a junior thrower who has broken the weight throw record numerous times and even pushed the record seven feet past the previous record that she broke at first.
Bates is also nationally ranked, currently in 23rd position in the weight throw and 12th in the GLIAC conference.
Sprinters and Distance
This indoor season has been just as hard for sprinters and long distance runners. The surface is important when it comes to racing and practicing. Going back and forth on hard surfaces to soft surfaces can cause injuries.
“Besides weather, injuries are another thing that we are facing this winter,” sophomore runner Karli Oprian said. “A lot of people are getting shin splits due to the fact that we have to change our surfaces up so much.”
The team travels to Jackson a few days throughout the week to train in a sports bubble. When they aren’t there, they are practicing hurdles in Osborne Hall or practicing in the gym.
“We are just looking to preserve through this because it’s just going to make us better and we trust what our coaches’ methods,” senior sprinter Lepear Smith said. “If coach tells me to shut it down, I shut it down and rest for as long as he says. Everybody is improving due to what they have us do and I appreciate the coaches taking care of our bodies.”
Smith placed 3rd in the 60m at the NCAA Division II Challenge meet on February 8th.
“There are many places where we can improve and we are working on that now heading in to the GLIAC meet.”
The distance team is built around many good runners who have hit national qualifying marks as well.
“Realistically, our distance team has several runners who can and should place at the GLIAC meet,” Smith said.
Senior Tina Oprean has set four different records for the Pioneers in the 800 meters, 1 mile, 5000 meters and the distance melody relay.
Oprean hit national qualifying B standards in all events but the mile.
On the men’s side, multiple athletes have also made a few lasting impressions hitting qualifying standards in the men’s distance melody relay and the 3000 meters.
Senior Mitch Williams recently hit a national qualifying B standard in the 3000 meters in 8.33.6 at Indianapolis two weeks ago.
Williams is also part of the men’s nationally ranked distance melody that also consist of senior Jarod Williams and juniors Scott Whitaker and Matt Hendrix.
Both the men’s and women’s distance melody teams are ranked in the top 12 and have the chance to go to the national meet.
The GLIAC meet is sure to yield an interesting outcome. The meet takes place March 1st and 2nd. Malone has a lot of athletes who can score points in their individual races in an attempt to bring home the university’s second GLIAC title.