Sports / The Prairie Fire / April 7, 2008

Track team looks at blue skies ahead

Trevor Field is alive and jumping (and running and throwing) once again as the Knox outdoor track team began their preparation for a Conference title this weekend. After a promising showing and tremendous growth over the indoor season, the team appears ready to continue the bounding progress it has shown over the previous months.

With mostly the same team coming back, despite some losses mainly to softball, outstanding athletes like senior Pam Bell, young standouts like freshman Bill Schaefer, and a couple of record breakers in senior Tim Rairdon and sophomore Adam Kent; the team looks ready to make some noise at conference this year. The addition of freshman Courtney Jude, a sprinter with much talent and promise, senior Genevieve Nichols, a weight thrower with no prior experience but a lot of talent and drive, and sophomore Hala Simm, a cross country runner turned distance runner, the team is headed in the right track. Spots have been filled to maximize the skills of the athletes, and more importantly, points.

“The quality of the athletes on the team is our real strength,” said coach Dan Zierfuss, a coach of the track team. “We still lack depth in some places, and we will have to load up on some of them again, but Coach [Patrick] Irwin and I are confident the kids can come through, as they did in indoor track.”

The coaches’ strategy of preparation for meets, which lead up to the big one at conference, is constant repetition.

“We want to make it so when they get out there, they perform without thinking,” said Zierfuss. “The more you think about it, the more chance you have to do something wrong. When it becomes second nature, results are that much better, and that’s what we are training to be able to do.”

With the ability to have more room to perform, the list of events grows for both halves of track. On the throwing side, javelin, discus, and hammer throw are added, and the steeplechase is added on the running side. The people participating in these events have not had much of a chance to perfect them, but the season is for working out the kinks in anticipation of conference competition.

“Even with the addition of the new events, I think that the team can handle the new stuff well,” said Zierfuss. “Adam [Kent] in particular, I’m surprised that he hasn’t done much with the hammer throw, and considering how well he did in the weight throw this winter, and how similar the two events are, there is potential for another record falling this season.”

Midwest Conference championships, held May 9 and 10, will be hosted by Knox this year, and the coaches are anticipating a great showing.

“The home field advantage, using the same facility that we practice on every day, will be great for us,” Zierfuss said. “It’s a great opportunity for all our athletes to really make a great showing against their opponents.”

When asked about the fact that he would be playing host to the other teams, Zierfuss confessed a nervous excitement.

“It’s my first year to be hosting it,” he said. “But more than anything, more than being nervous, I’m excited to be able to play at one of the best facilities in the state, and that the team will have a chance to put their best on display.”

The team has a while to prepare for conference. With more than a month to get ready, perfection is in reach if the drive is there. Once again, the Prairie Fire will be able burn it up outdoors, where it should be.

Merritt Rohlfing


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