Track coaches trying to keep things ‘normal’ in return from COVID

Scott Swanson

Head Coach Nathan Whitfield stood on the track at Husky Field Monday afternoon, Sept. 28, and looked around as a couple of dozen high-schoolers ran, jumped and hurled implements at various points around him.

It is Week 2 of Sweet Home’s five-week “mini” spring season and the Huskies looked like they were taking advantage of the opportunities presented them.

Distance runners stretched in front of newly arrived coach Ramiro Santana Jr., while coach Chris Carpenter worked with pole vaulters on the triple jump runway nearby.

Coach Emmi Collier finished up with athletes working in the shot put pit.

Whitfield himself had been coaching the javelin throwers, his specialty.

“We’re treating it like a normal track season,” he said. Although only 27 athletes have turned out so far, he said he’s happy with that number in the truncated season. “Hopefully we’ll see a few more.”

Participation is free. All athletes need is an up-to-date medical exam.

“I was talking with the other coaches and we’re just focusing on getting them back into shape, knocking off some of the rust,” Whitfield said. Newcomers are being encouraged to try different events and the more experienced athletes are being encouraged to get back into the routines they’re used to.

“We’re treating it like normal practice, as close as we can. We give them a normal workout, then they split off and work on specific events.”

The real track season will begin practices April 19, play their first contests starting May 3 and have a June 21-27 culminating week, according to the current OSAA plan. During the current “mini season,” schools are allowed compete against others in their own region or league, and Whitfield said Sweet Home is planning to host Harrisburg at the end of the mini season.

In addition to Carpenter, Collier and Santana Jr., he has assistance from veterans Ramiro Santana Sr. and Randy Whitfield, his father, and he said he’s hoping to get Justin Carpenter involved. And there’s room for more.

“I’d like to get a pole vault coach in here,” he said.