By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Records were set and a new paradigm for track and field was established this year at Cherokee High School. For the first time, the school fielded an indoor track team.
This year’s team included seven boys and four girls, nine of which are underclassmen. Byron Locust, a junior and one of two upperclassmen on the team, has qualified for the upcoming state meet in the shot put event.
Being that it is the first year, Cherokee High School records were set in many events including:
*Girls 1600M – Dorian Reed, 6:22.56, WNC Polar Bear Championships, Polk Co. High School, Jan. 25, 2017
* Girls Shot Put – Tiarra Toineeta, 28-08, JDL Fast Track Invitational, Winston-Salem, Jan. 14, 2017
* Boys 55M High Hurdles – Jordan Grant, 10.34, WNC Polar Bear Championships, Polk Co. High School, Jan. 25, 2017
* 500M Run – Darius Lambert, 1:18.50, Cherokee Invitational Polar Bear, Cherokee High School, Dec. 3, 2016
* High Jump – Jordan Grant, 5-00.00, Polk Polar Bear #1, Polk Co. High School, Dec. 7, 2016
* Shot Put – Byron Locust, 45-01.50, Polk Polar Bear #2, Polk Co. High School, Jan. 11, 2017
*4x100M – Logan Lequire, Julian Rubio, Josh Driver, Silas Driver, 1:09.93, Polk Reindeer Games, Polk Co. High School, Dec. 14, 2016
“The numbers are not going to be the same for indoor track as it is for cross country or outdoor track because you have basketball and wrestling going on,” Danny Williamson, CHS track co-head coach, said. “And, it not’s just like that here. It’s like there for most schools. But, the kids we’ve had have been very committed, and the thing that we’ve been able to see is the ones that did commit to it every time out have gotten better.”
He said not all of the performances are at the top of the state level…yet…but improvements are being shown. “It’s gotten them excited because they keep working hard and they get better, and they’re realizing that their hard work and efforts are paying off.”
Coach Williamson said the beauty of coaching track and field is that winning first place isn’t always the emphasis. “We all want to get first place, but if you don’t get first place but you improve your personal record, that gets the kids fired up because they realize that they’re getting better.”
Other than the obvious, indoor track isn’t that much different than outdoor track except some of the race distances are changed. For instance, there is a 55M dash instead of the 100M Dash that is run outside, and instead of a 200M Dash and 400M Dash, there is a 300M Dash. All of the field events that are held outdoors are held indoors with the exception of the discus.
A regular indoor track is half the size of an outdoor track. But, not all indoor track events are held indoors. Since most schools, especially 1A and 2A schools, do not have indoor track facilities, a lot of the “indoor” meets are held outside and called Polar Bear meets. “The majority of the schools in North Carolina have all of their indoor track and field meets on the outdoor track, but you run the indoor distances,” Coach Williamson explained.
This year’s 1A/2A NCHSAA State Championships, set for Friday, Feb. 10,are being held at the JDL Fast Track facility in Winston—Salem which is an official indoor track and is 200M long which is exactly half the size of an official outdoor track.
Eddie Swimmer, CHS track co-head coach, said that having an indoor program will greatly benefit the outdoor track team. “It’s going to keep them in shape and in good condition. Pretty much any kid that you’ve seen that’s won state outdoors, they participated indoors as well.”
Coach Williamson added that himself and Swimmer are working to change their team’s paradigm of thinking when it comes to competition. “We’re trying to get the kids here to realize that it’s more than just against the Smoky Mountain Conference. Let’s start looking beyond that and spread our wings a little bit more.”
Both coaches are looking to continue growing the indoor program for next season. Coach Williamson noted, “We want to get kids that aren’t playing basketball or wrestling, but are just hanging out…they don’t have to be great or even know a thing about it, but we can teach them something and they’ll continue to get better.”
Coach Swimmer added, “One thing we’re trying to teach our kids about track is that it’s a team sport, but it’s also individual. We want to win and we can win as a team, but also, individually, they’re going to increase their potential and better themselves.”
The two coaches are also working to change the way of thinking that track doesn’t require the same dedication as other sports. “Many think that track is something that you can just show up and do it because it’s running,” Coach Williamson commented, “but, it’s just like basketball or football; if you want to be good at it, you’ve got to practice it every day. You just can’t show up and be good at it.”
He went on to say, “Our project for the spring will be to make sure that the kids are here on a consistent basis because the number one goal for the outdoor season would be to win the Smoky Mountain Conference championship as a team.”