Spring is here.
Just don’t look outside.
Monday marked the first day of the spring sports season as track and field team statewide were able to hold their first practices.
However after a month of February with heavy snow and cold temperatures, teams won’t be getting the chance to practice or compete outside for the foreseeable future.
Chi-Hi and coach Becky Nette spent the first day of the season with the school’s spring sports code meeting and will be starting to ramp up activity in practices later in the week.
“The biggest thing we’re going to hone in on is we’re going to get a lot of administrative things done right away,” Nette said. “We’re in no rush to get outside so we have a little extra time to get done everything we need to get done in the first couple days.”
Once they start working out, Nette said the team will be focusing on technique and utilizing new equipment indoors to get ready for a more ambitious set of indoor meets later in the month.
Chi-Hi currently has five indoor meets scheduled, beginning on March 19 with the Blue Devil invite hosted at UW-Stout in Menomonie with three of the meets there and two at UW-Eau Claire through early April.
Nette said those early competitions give the new faces on the team a chance to dabble in different events to find which ones fit them best.
“We have five indoor meets so I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to see how the kids have been doing in the offseason, see where they’re sitting and just get a feel for a track meet,” Nette said. “Those indoor ones are nice for those newbies.”
Chi-Hi’s first outdoor meet is currently scheduled for April 9, a home triangular with Eau Claire Memorial and Eau Claire North at Dorais Field. Lingering winter weather froze out last season’s triangular and Nette is already skeptical that the snow and ice will be gone in time for this year’s version.
As the other spring sports open practices in the coming weeks, gym space will become more scarce for all the teams. But Nette — a Stanley-Boyd graduate and former track and field athlete who grew up practicing without a track — understands the team will simply have to make the best of the situation until Mother Nature allows all the teams onto their preferred surfaces outdoors.
“We just have to utilize our facilities the best we can and just really hone in on that technique and see what kids can do indoor and hope the kids can do the best they can,” Nette said.
Across Terrill St. at McDonell, the Macks held a light practice to start the season.
The snowy and icy conditions will keep the team indoors, unable to even get in a jog or distance run around the streets of Chippewa Falls.
“We’ll get some running in (indoors) but right now the roads are awful (for running) and it’s actually a hazard to run on,” McDonell coach Marty Bushland said. “Everything is slippery and the snow piles are so huge.”
Bushland said his team may try to utilize the frigid conditions by getting in some cross country skiing work to help build endurance before the team is able to run. The Macks have a few indoor meets on the schedule, including one they host on March 19 at UW-Eau Claire. Last season the program held a few smaller indoor meets as the winter weather lingered into later April and Bushland has already been approached by other coaches about doing so again.
“I think everybody is going to be trying to add more indoor meets because what else are you going to be able to do?” Bushland said.
McDonell’s annual Father Mac Relays are scheduled for April 23 at Dorais Field, giving the team a little extra time in hopes of hosting its flagship event. With the McDonell boys basketball team’s season still ongoing and class trips on the horizon, Bushland doesn’t expect his roster to be at full strength for a while yet.
“We’ll be OK by the end,” Bushland said. “All that matters is what happens at the end of May and the first day of June (at the state championships).”