Winter Track looks to turn up the heat this season

Track+runners+%28L-R%29+Joshua+Manoj%2C+Kiernan+Diaz%2C+Andrew+Shinkle%2C+Ethan+Levy%2C+Keegan+McGroarty%2C+and+Joshua+Cason+pose+after+a+practice.+

Photo supplied by Andrew Shinkle

Track runners (L-R) Joshua Manoj, Kiernan Diaz, Andrew Shinkle, Ethan Levy, Keegan McGroarty, and Joshua Cason pose after a practice.

 This winter looks like it could be a hot one for the runners at our school. 

   The onset of winter brings with it beloved sport staples like ice hockey, basketball, and wrestling. But, one winter sport that doesn’t get enough credit is winter track. 

   Winter track is closely related to the spring season, with similar field events and your traditional sprint and distance races. However, the length of one lap is cut in half from 400m to 200m due to the indoor facility being more compact; this leads to closer, more exciting races. 

   Coach Michael Tangeman, who is a special education teacher and provides in-class support for history classes, has been working with the team for eight years, spending the last two as head coach. He’s excited to return to the traditional winter track schedule this season, after COVID-19 delayed the onset of the 2020-2021 season.

   “Waiting until February made the last two months [December and January, when the normal winter track season starts] seem a long time, so it’ll be nice to have the traditional practice and meet schedule back,” he said.

   Tangeman further explained that last year’s season was heavily impacted by COVID. 

   “Last year, of all the seasons, the winter season was the most affected because of the limits on indoor competition. And now we’re back this year, and from what I’m hearing we’ll have traditional indoor meets,” he said.

   However, he was able to find the silver lining within the struggles, as new members of the team were able to acclimate to their new environment without the pressure of massive crowds and weekly bus rides.

   Because of the pandemic, only one of last year’s meets was held indoors at the team’s usual competition facility. The John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex, colloquially known as “The Bubble,” is located in Toms River, NJ, more than an hour away. The rest of the season’s meets were held outdoors locally, so travel was not much of an issue.

   Ethan Levy, a distance runner and one of the team’s senior captains, is also excited for the upcoming season. 

   “We have a really strong senior class and a lot of new talent,” Levy said.  

   Tangeman believes the team’s strong returning core can “teach the younger athletes” due to their experience and understanding of the sport.

   Levy is excited to see junior Kiernan Diaz, a fellow distance runner, excel this winter.

   “He has a lot of talent, but the races that we’re able to run don’t really give him the opportunity to show that. He shines over longer distances,” Levy said.

   Tangeman is looking forward to competing.

   “We’re gonna be ready to compete to the best of our ability while also building up our strength and fitness for the spring,” he said. 

   Levy would advise new runners to not worry about the season and just use it as a way to improve their skill while having fun. 

   “If you do well, you’ll do great in the spring, but if you don’t do well, you can use it as a way to gain experience and get to where you want to be in the spring,” Levy said. 

   Tangeman feels winter track not only does that, but it also builds up important character traits.

   “I think it builds toughness. We do a lot of practicing outside, it’s often pretty cold, and I think it’s a good way to challenge yourself mentally,” he said. “And also, you don’t know if you’re good at something until you’ve tried it, so it’s a good idea to try one of the seasons to see an ability you were previously unaware of.”

   Overall, it looks like the winter track team is shaping up for a solid season. With a strong group of returning runners and a talented group of rookies, the sky’s the limit for the boys and girls of the team.