By Maggie Brandenburg
When junior Trent Hall steps out onto the grass this season, he won’t have to worry about protecting any other players or controlling the rush. Hall’s only goal will be to hurl a metal ball as far as physically possible through his strength alone. As a shot putter on the men’s track team, he will be competing by himself for about a third of the school year, and that’s what he prefers.
Like Hall, as the spring sports season rolls around, many athletes will compete in track as a way to keep in shape and focused for their fall or winter seasons. For several athletes, a track season presents the opportunity for them to focus on skills that will transfer over to their primary sport. For Hall, he said it’s a perfect chance to hone his footwork for his football position as offensive guard come fall season. “I was interested in track because I’ve been doing shot put since I was in sixth grade,” Hall said. “A lot of it is balancing and working on your glide technique and your explosion with your hips, so with my position it takes a lot of those abilities.”
This unique opportunity to train while still competing is what draws athletes like Hall and sophomore Lauren Kahre to the sport during her off-season from cross-country. Kahre chose to run track as a supplement to her cross-country season to make sure she is in the competitive mind set year-round.
“First of all, there’s the competition so it makes you strive for something and to have a goal therefore your practices will be more fruitful in the fall and you’ll just be in better shape,” Kahre said.
Despite track being a secondary sport for many athletes, according to Will Ellery, men’s head track coach, this doesn’t stop them or the athletes who designate track their primary sport from working hard throughout the season. He said, track becomes the primary sport for the athletes during the season, as that is where their attention is focused for the time being. “(That the athletes are) doing (track) is commitment enough and once they start doing it, they’re committed,” Ellery said.
Year-round training can be beneficial for many athletes whose sports start soon after the spring season ends, but for others this constant training can also lead to burn out and injury especially among long distance runners who move directly from their spring season into summer training for the fall.
For Kahre, who moves from her cross-country season to full-time winter training and then into her track season, she said keeping herself healthy throughout the whole process is a special concern. “Right after the track season, you go immediately into the cross-country training. So if you do get injured, you’re only taking away from the cross country training,” Kahre said.
One of the big differences for athletes competing in multiple sports is the way in which the team dynamic works. Unlike sports such as football and soccer where teammates constantly rely on one another throughout the game, according to Ellery, track provides a unique contradiction of competing for yourself and seeing your progress in clear numbers while also contributing to the team’s success . “(In track) you get not only to challenge your opponents but yourself too,” Ellery said.
For Hall, he said the combination of football and track is the perfect fit and said he will continue to compete in both throughout his high school career. However given the choice between competing in football or track in college, Hall said he would choose football.
“That’s a tough (choice). I’d say football, because I love football,” he said, “It’s my main sport that I want to do. I really want to go far in football.”