With less than a week to go before the season starts, the lake area teams have been working hard to prepare, trying to get in the fourteen practices required by MSHSAA before competing.
School of the Osage's track team is facing the same conditions as everyone else, but Coach Drew Phillips and the team have hit the ground running, preparing for their first meet on Monday, March 18 at home.
"I'm worried because of the conditions, but they're the same for everybody," Coach Phillips said. " We'll have to use the first part of the season to catch up on conditioning, and I don't know of anybody that wouldn't be in the same spot as us. Everyone is just going to have to use good judgement."
It is hard to train and prepare for the season when the weather keeps teams from practicing as they should, and though they can train indoors, it doesn't simulate the track and conditions. Despite that, Phillips and the team remain positive, as the Indians have a strong crew coming in.
"I think the one thing that helps us is the fact we've got some seniors who have been through awhile, and hopefully, it won't take them as long to adjust," Phillips said. "We have ten returning lettermen on the boys, and seven on the girls."
Of those returning, there are some very talented members preparing to take the field, with a list of accomplishments hanging from their belts.
The Indians return Robbie Mueller, a standout athlete who broke the career goal record for the state of Missouri in soccer this past fall. Mueller made the sectional track meet in two events last year, and will look to do so again.
Matt Rechenmacher made the sectional track meet last year for the 200 meter dash, and the team will look to him and Mueller in the short
In the throws, Donald Hudlmeyer and Tyler Winn will lead the team. Jon Colgan and Tristan Hensley will lead the team in the distance competitions, with both boys turning in solid performances this fall in cross country, with Hensley taking third at state.
Tyler Jones and Wyatt Whitman will also be some talented competitors for the Indians. Jones is what Phillips refers to as a jack of all trades, saying he can jump, pole vault and run. Whitman is another distance runner, and also competes in the jump. Both figure to be a key cog in the machine of the Indians' boys team.
Add in the addition of Hayden Drace, a talented freshman and Zach Curran returning to the jumps after a year or two off, along with Grant Gamm taking over some distance running, and the team looks stacked across the board.
On the girls side, Coach Phillips is excited. The team has 33 girls on it, and the thing that excites him the most is knowing they will be able to field a full team, even with some of the players missing meets due to playing soccer this spring.
"That depth gives you some flexibility, a leg up on competition," Phillips said.
Returning this year are a number of athletes, and the team will be led by senior Amanda Blaeuer. Blaeuer was sidelined in her junior year with an injury, but made the sectional track meet in her sophomore year in the jump.
Sophomore Isabel Morris is another athlete the Lady Indians expect big things from in the throws. Juniors Hailey Cotton and Daisy Ralston will compete in the distance races, both having solid seasons in cross country last fall.
A number of sophomores will also take on a large role. Keely McCann, Hannah Bashore and Monica Cisar all factor in to the grand scheme, with McCann doing the jumps, Bashore sprinting and Cisar jumping and running distances.
"We're a little thin in some areas on the boys' side," Coach Phillips said. "On the girls' side, it's just a matter of putting it together and see if it will fit, but we're looking forward to it. Our goal is to put the best team on the track."
So what does Coach Philips expect from his team this season?
"Our expectations do not change," Phillips said. "Regardless of experience or depth, they're pretty simple; at the conference track meet, we want to be as good as we've been all year, and then we want to get better from then to the district track meet so that when we get to the district meet, we get as many people as we possibly can in a position to move on. And that's it."
Phillips says that some years it is more difficult than others, but the goal is to be at the peak level once they reach districts.
"The bottom line is that there isn't a lot of gameplanning in track for the opposition," Coach Phillips said. "You just have to take care of yourself, and see what happens."