Tricky Track Turns

Josh Horton, Reporter

The track and field team is working to stay healthy and train for meets on a track that is 21 meters short of a regulation size.

The short track inside Anderson Sports and Health Center doesn’t look very different from regulation size, but track and field graduate assistant Frankie Redmond said it has an impact on athletes, particularly sprinters who have to negotiate a shorter distance to turns. The less time an athlete has to turn, the harder it is on the body, he said.

“The biggest thing is we have to keep our athletes healthy,” Redmond said. “We have to be sure and check if we have any athletes that are a little hurt from the turns.”

Due to the small size of the track, MU is unable to host indoor events.  The closest school to host an indoor meet is East Stroudsburg University, one of few rgonal schools to have a regulation-size track. The Cougars have also traveled to meets at Ursinus College, Susquehanna University, Bucknell University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and the New York City Armory

The ESU Warriors take full advantage of it. East Stroudsburg head track and field coach Joe Koch feels the track gives his runners a training advantage.

“There’s no question it gives us an advantage,” Koch said over the phone. “Our distance runners run outdoors for the most part, but it definitely helps our sprinters, especially the hurdlers.”

The advantage is that runners can take their turns as they would on any other regulation-size track.

“It definitely helps keep our athletes healthy,” Koch said. “If we had a shorter track it would be hard on them, especially in and out of turns. Plus, the straightaways are longer.”

Another plus to a regulation-size track is that the intervals are already set, and with a smaller track, the team has to measure out intervals for its workouts.

“The negatives are it’s hard to really judge your pace while doing workouts,” Redmond said. “You have to measure out exactly where each interval will end and that can get tricky, because again you have to worry about the athletes coming out of turns.”

Redmond said the team is still able to get quality workouts and remain attractive to potential students.

“Again, I don’t feel a facility is always the one thing that attracts athletes. Every single one of our athletes is able to get a quality workout in and at the end of the week say they are ready to go for the next meet.”

Redmond, a former MU track standout, admit the East Stroudsburg meet was one he looked forward to, both as a coach and former athlete.

“ESU has a pretty nice facility for indoor track and field,” Redmond said. “As a past athlete and present coach I really do enjoy going to the facility in hopes of some good times from our athletes.”

Koch doesn’t expect the landscape for indoor track and field facilities to improve any time soon due to the high cost to build a regulation-size indoor track and field facility.

“It’s definitely a cost issue,” Koch said. “Our indoor facility isn’t new and to be honest, it will be ready for an upgrade pretty soon. However, I think it will be a while until it happens. It is very, very expensive to build and maintain these types of facilities.”

The track and field team has the opportunity to host an outdoor event April 20 for the Narkiewicz Invitational.

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