BY MAKENNA ALLEN
Tiger Athletics fans, we’ve got some news for you – after an extended break due to COVID-19, track and field is back. The FHSU Indoor Track and Field team officially begins its season in a meet Dec. 5 at Washburn. This means it’s less than a month until these Tigers hit the road for their seven-meet regular season.
According to Track and Field Head Coach, Jason McCullough, the team’s schedule is relatively full. However, individual meets will differ from years past with regards to the size of the events.
“Right now, we’re looking mostly at competition against NCAA Division II schools and primarily MIAA schools,” McCullough said. “Nothing has been set by the conference but it appears that we’re just going to focus on competing against the schools that do a similar type of testing as us.”
When it comes to MIAA and national championships, the fewer number of participants in meets will translate to a smaller field of competition for Tiger athletes.
“The National Championships will only be NCAA Division II schools but there will be several schools that don’t compete this year so there will be a smaller field for all of the events when we get to that point,” McCullough said.
Ultimately, McCullough’s goal is to progress through the season and MIAA Championships as planned, with hopes of sending select athletes to compete at the national level.
McCullough also maintains the goal of helping his athletes to continually strive for the sport they love.
“The athletes thrive off competition and that’s what they’re here for. The main thing I’m excited for is just getting people back competing and doing what they love to do,” McCullough said. “It’s my goal that the athletes can find some sense of purpose and enjoyment out of what they’re doing for this season.”
Athletes like junior distance runner, Abigail Stewart, have their own targets for the season.
“My goals for the indoor track season are to take advantage of every opportunity to run the best I can, to PR, to score at conference and to make fun, lasting memories with my teammates,” Stewart said.
For Stewart, these goals stand regardless of any shifting circumstances.
“COVID hasn’t really changed my goals. However, it has made me realize how important it is to be flexible in your path to reach your goals,” Stewart said. “It has also made me realize how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity to improve and to have fun.”
As these athletes work with the goals of any season, they have to keep in mind the restrictions of a COVID-19 season. Similar to many other winter sports teams, the indoor track and field team will be conducting weekly surveillance testing of athletes.
“At this point, we’re doing surveillance testing which means we’ll just have a portion of our athletes tested each week to see how things are going and then anybody who has any symptoms will be tested and will probably be held out just for safety reasons,” McCullough said.
Ultimately, the process of training for the season has remained relatively typical for the track and field athletes.
“Training is pretty normal right now, especially when we have good weather and we can be outside,” McCullough said. “When we have to use the indoor training facility, we have to have some restrictions when it comes to size and time but other than that, we’ve been training like normal for the most part.”