In January, several of Gull Lake’s athletes have competed in indoor track and field meets across Michigan.
Track and field athletes Cole Kuehl, Carson Neff and William Lockerbie said they have been competing in indoor track meets to better prepare themselves for the outdoor track season.
Lockerbie, who participates in shot put and hammer throw, said indoor track will allow him to focus on improvement during the spring, rather than re-learning how to throw after a year off.
“I can just like work on getting better at it rather than like learning it all again,” Lockerbie said.
Kuehl, who is a thrower as well, said he’s doing indoor track so he can enter the Spring season with a meet already under his belt and a new focus on what he needs to change to improve.
Runner and high jumper Carson Neff said he participates for a similar reason.
“I decided to do it so that I could improve my skills and have something to do over winter break because I don’t do a whole lot of indoor soccer anymore,” Neff said.
On the other hand, junior Makenzie Wank has been running the 800 and the 1600 meter races at indoor meets, runs the indoor track to record times to send off to colleges.
“I’m looking to run in college so that’s a good way for me to put myself out there as an option for them in the future,” Wank said.
Wank, who plays soccer for Gull Lake in the Spring rather than taking a place on the track team, said she has a greater chance to run track in college rather than playing soccer.
“From freshman year to now, my times are better, whereas on the soccer field I play more of a smaller role,” Wank said.
Indoor track meets take place on Saturdays at colleges around Michigan that have indoor tracks: Grand Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University, and Hillsdale to name a few.
According to William Lockerbie, indoor meets are pretty laid back.
“You just show up, pay 10 bucks and it’s pretty easy,” Lockerbie said.
Some meets take longer than others, depending on where it is and how many participants there are, Lockerbie said.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I’ve only been to Grand Valley, and theirs was run really well, so I don’t really know how bad they can get,” Lockerbie said. “But you just have to get through everybody, and it depends how long because sometimes there’s a hundred people and sometimes there’s like 10.”[/perfectpullquote]
While there isn’t an official indoor track team for Gull Lake, Gull Lake athletes practice on their own, sometimes with coaches from other schools.
“I have a coach at Portage Northern, and he’s a good throwing coach so I go there,” Kuehl said. “He teaches me footwork and how to release.”
Neff, on the other hand, works with a Battle Creek Central coach and uses the school’s facilities during the indoor track season.
Wank said she doesn’t have a coach to work with during the winter.
“A lot of it’s just been self training, I do go to Borgess and work with a trainer, but I don’t have a coach that focuses on the distance events I do,” Wank said.
Each of the indoor track athletes have goals set for the season.
Kuehl has already qualified for the State meet for weight throw, he said. Kuehl said he hopes to have thrown over 50 feet in the weight throw and well above 45 feet in shot put by the end of the indoor season.
Wank would like to qualify for the state meet at the end of February as well.
“I’m four seconds off,” Wank said. “I need a 5:26, and I’m at a 5:30 right now, so I’m within range.”
According to Neff, varying high-jump setups have proven to be a challenge, so his performances at meets haven’t been as consistent as he would like.
“I think once I’m used to the places I’ll better be able to perform,” Neff said, “And then eventually when we get outdoors it will have been good practice.”
Neff, who’s current PR for high jump is 6ʹ4ʺ, hopes that the indoor season will lead him into breaking the school high jump record, he said.
“If I could consistently hit 6ʹ2ʺ or 6’4ʺ and if I could hit 6ʹ6ʺ then I’d be really happy,” Neff said, “because then I could try really hard outdoor and get the school record at 6ʹ6.5ʺ.”
Neff said smaller tracks also present a challenge.
“If you’re a runner that runs more than a hundred meters the curves are much tighter because none of the tracks are 400 meter,” Neff said. “You’re really leaning when you’re running the curves, so just get used to that and the synthetic floors that they use.”
Seven Gull Lake students have been competing in indoor track–seniors Cole Kuehl, Carson Neff, and William Lockerbie, juniors Nate Krawzyk and Makenzie Wank, sophomore Nolan Frazaa and freshman Koby Frazaa–but Lockerbie, Kuehl and Neff all said more athletes and coaches would need to show interest to get an official indoor team started.