At 9 a.m. tomorrow, the Norton Healthcare Sports Center on Muhammad Ali Boulevard in Louisville will play host to the state indoor track meet and will be the last chance for coaches to get to see their athletes in competition until the spring outdoor season starts two weeks later.
The indoor season, which for Shelby County and Collins has ramped up with the opening of the Sports Center in downtown Louisville, lets coaches to get a feel for how those athletes are in terms of their conditioning.
“I know a lot about them and that’s why I do the indoor season — so you can get a gauge on them,” Collins coach George Sanderlin said. “The indoor season is more like a bonus for the kids I know have been working hard in the winter and have done well in the early time trials. I don’t run all the kids in the indoor season because some of them just aren’t ready yet. It works out well for the kids who have been around for a while.”
Shelby County coach Nick Edwards agreed, adding that getting to see his athletes in actual competition as opposed to practice is another benefit of the indoor season.
“It gives us a good idea of where the kids are at with their fitness so we know, moving forward, where we need to target their workouts. Field events, it’s pretty similar — you get to see where they’re at as competitors and where they’re at in their technique. You can know what we really need to hone in on going into outdoor,” he said. “The biggest thing is getting that chance to compete. When you look at track and field, that’s all it is. It’s who’s a competitor… You’re putting your best up against their best and find out who’s better. That’s what I really like to see in the indoor season – who’s that person we can count on to be a competitor. That kind of helps us set our expectations when it comes to outdoor season.”
And so far, both coaches have liked what they’ve seen from their teams.
For Collins, the goal this year was rewriting the school’s indoor record books and the Titans have achieved that. Grace Evans set the school record in pole vault with a 10-foot-9 inch mark, breaking the record she had set earlier in the month by three inches. Chase Delaney, his brother Reece and Jack Fuhrman have all held the boys’ two-mile record this winter, with Jack setting the final time to beat with a 10:59. Also, Emma Kendall set the Titans’ best mark with a one-minute flat running of the 400-meter, breaking the mark by 14 seconds.
Across the county, Edwards is also pleased with how his team is doing in the winter.
“Our conditioning is right where it needs to be — all the way from the sprinters to the distance runners. From that aspect, it’s been good,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a surprise, necessarily, but there are definitely some that I’m pleased that they are where they are. Bishop Bale hit a personal best in the high jump in his first meet back after being out all last year with a torn ligament in his knee. First meet coming off of that and after having a year off, he goes out and gets a 5-10. We’ve had Juan Rodriguez get a new personal best in long jump and triple jump. Our distance runners — we’ve got several new kids coming out this year and the ones returning have all looked really promising. They’ve been running some times where they could qualify for state and even finish top eight in state when it comes to the outdoor season.”
Of course, with several members of the track team also competing in basketball, it’s made some training harder. While some, like Collins’ Emma Kendall — who is a defending state champion in the 800 — and Shelby County’s Maddie Reed — who is currently the top ranked pole vaulter in 2A — have been pulling double duty, others stuck with the hardwood until the end of the year and in the case of Collins’ Kiya Ledford, still has his track coach waiting.
“Kiya is still playing basketball — he’s been running some on his own, which he needs to do if he wants to go far in state, which he can do,” Sanderlin said. “We’ve got a good boys’ basketball team so he could be out for a couple of more weeks.”
With regards to Reed, Edwards has high expectations for her and was excited to get her out for the indoor season.
“Her heights have been solid — I think she went 11-feet in her first pole vault. She’s number one in 2A but, for her, her expectations are beyond where she’s at right now,” he said. “She was playing basketball but she’s more of a track first kid — she’s about a foot away from really getting big time looks from colleges. I think she’ll be there by the end of this year. I talked with coach Farmer and she’s fine with Maddie. There are some others who were starting on the basketball team so we had them wait until basketball season is over.”
Both Collins and Shelby County will be in action for the state indoor meet on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Norton Health Sports Center.