This is one of three concrete-based runways the district has built at Jefferson Field. This one will be used for the pole vault. The two to the right are for long jump and triple jump.
How can a track-and-field coach prepare his team for competition without a facility for training?
It?s not as hard as you might think, according to Dennis Boldt, who is facing that situation this spring as head coach of the Hillsboro High School program.
?I think people would be surprised how little we have to use the track (for practice),? Boldt said. ?It?s obviously a luxury for warm up, and in wet weather we?re on it all the time. But we can do a lot without one.?
As work continues on the Joel Wiens Stadium project shared by USD 410 and Tabor College, Boldt and his team of four assistant coaches?Don Penner, Nathan Hiebert, Mike Jillka and Donya Anderson?have developed a Plan B that will be different for their athletes, but not detrimental.
They will use a combination of makeshift locations to get their 60 middle-school and 30 high-school athletes ready for meets.
One of those sites is Jefferson Field, located about a block and a half north of the high school. Used for decades as a practice field for high school football, the old facility has been altered to accommodate training for jumping and throwing events.
The district has built three concrete jump runways?one for pole vault and two for long/triple jump?as well as concrete throwing rings for shot put and discus. Space also has been designated to accommodate javelin throwers.
Meanwhile, sprint and hurdle practice will be at the middle-school field and the open area just north of playground at the elementary school.
Brown Gymnasium at the high school will be used for high-jump, and will accommodate the entire team in case of inclement weather.
?It?s crowded then,? Boldt said. ?If it?s a poor-weather day, we virtually have five (spring sports) teams that want to practice in there. We like to have two courts, so we?ll work on handoffs, sprints and plyometrics.?
Plyometrics is a method of training for power or explosiveness.
So, what about the middle-distance and distance runners?
Boldt said their routine won?t change much from what it has been the past few years.
?The kids are excited, particularly the distance runners, that they?re not running on that (old Tabor) track,? Boldt said. ?It was a very poor facility to run on and distance runners ran on it very little. We did a lot of work on the grass and the dirt road behind Tabor track. We tried to keep people off that track as much as possible.?
This year, distance runners will do most of their training on the soccer fields at the Sports Complex and on city streets.
?The basis of my program is interval training, which is basically 400 (meter) repeats,? Boldt said. ?What we do is run a 400 meter at a certain pace based on heart rate. All we need is a little bit of space to do that.
?We?ll run on the streets somewhat, but we have to be careful not to run on them too much because that?s not any better (for athletes) than the facility we had.?
So, is this year without a track a detriment for any of the events?
?My biggest concerns will be sprint-relay handoffs, particularly in the curve,? Boldt said. ?We can cover a lot of it in the gym, but not the curve.?
Training for a 200-meter dash could be hampered, too.
?In the 200 meters, we?re looking for a good curve runner and we can?t simulate that curve on the grass,? he said. ?We can make a curve, but we can?t simulate the footing.?
On a normal day when the weather is good, athletes first will warm up at Jefferson Field, then distribute themselves to the appropriate site to work on their individual events.
?I foresee this season training the kids like a college multi-event athlete,? Boldt said. ?There will be one day, for example, where they go with Coach Hiebert for the high jump and take care of their workouts for that event.
?On another day, instead of going over to high jump, you go to your sprint coach and your hurdle coach. So, we?ll maybe focus on high jump two days a week instead of a little bit every day.?
The routine becomes more complicated on days of middle-school and high-school meets because some of the coaches will be gone because they are traveling with the teams.
Even though a plan has been established, Boldt isn?t expecting this spring to pass without challenges.
?If the weather would be nice and sunny every day, with light wind and 70-degree temperatures?it would be breeze,? he said. ?The trouble is we?re gong to get wet weather, and that?s where we?re going to have to be careful with kids about injury.
?And we?re not going to tear up a lot of grass field (when it?s wet). We?ll run on the streets a little bit.
?We?ll try to keep in mind the health of our athletes.?
Boldt said he will accept the challenges without complaint.
?I just refuse to be negative about anything because that?s not going to help,? he said.
?I?ve got to keep in mind that we?re going to have such a great facility for our community. We?ll be hosting more meets, we?ll have better practice facilities, our throw areas will be outstanding.
?In our time of budget problems, we?ve got to keep in mind that our school is taking care of our programs the best they can. You?ve just got to look ahead to the future.?