CULVER — With the outdoor track season roughly a week away, John Glenn and Culver Community athletes got some experience under their belts at an indoor triangular meet at Culver Academies Wednesday.
While the meet may have featured some irregular distances and no team scores were kept, it afforded the Falcons and Cavaliers — whose teams don’t have the numbers to compete in some of the bigger meets of the indoor season — a chance to get out early and flex some competitive muscle.
“As small as we are, we can’t really put in a full indoor season like some of the bigger schools,” said Culver Community track coach Chad Hollenbaugh. “We’ve just been outside for a couple weeks, and this really is just a good thing to compete against someone even though the distances are a little bit different, so it’s hard to gauge time.”
“It’s a good stepping stone,” said Glenn head coach Kyle Amor. “I got to kind of see where my freshmen are finishing and what they do against our upper class. This was an eye-opener for my assistants and I because we kind of saw some things that surprised us. Because of the relaxed style of the meet, we experimented with some kids... and we were surprised. We’ve got definitely high expectations for the rest of the season.”
With several of the Academies’ top athletes either sitting out or taking it easy at Wednesday’s meet in preparation for Saturday’s Hoosier State Relays at Purdue University in Lafayette, the triangular also gave younger Academies athletes a chance to show their stuff.
“A number of these kids hadn’t run in a meet yet, so it was their first meet,” said Culver Academies head coach Michael Chastain. “It was just a way to kind of get an idea of where they are and how the training is going.”
“We did have some of our top people competing,” added Chastain. “Ashley Taylor competed in the long jump and the 40, but it was kind of just giving her a practice. Alex Burke had a PR in the long jump at 15.6’2”, and Kenzie Ungar, I went ahead and jumped her (in the high jump). I only wanted her to take about six jumps tonight since she’s going to compete on Saturday down at Purdue. And that was about it for the top end. Polo Burguete ran the 880, but he’s not going Saturday... and Leah Heckaman threw. So it was a good meet just to have Culver Community and John Glenn come in and get them a first meet in so they can see where they are.”
With the outdoor season still a little more than a week away, coaches are still getting a grasp on what their teams’ strengths and weaknesses are.
Culver Community’s boys should be strong in the field events and in sprints and middle distance. The girls team is another story as only one athlete, thrower Gwen Zehner, is out for the Lady Cavs so far.
“For the boys, numbers-wise in the past five years I’ve been here it’s as good as I’ve seen it and it’s right there where you need to be to field a full team and be competitive and have some depth,” said Hollenbaugh. “I think they’re learning what it takes to practice hard and be accountable for practices and their effort.
“On the boys side things are going in the right direction at Culver. On the girls side they’re taking a little bit longer to buy into the whole you need to be a two- or three-sport athlete. Even if it’s not your best sport, you need to compete and stay sharp.”
Unlike Culver Communi-ty, Glenn may struggle in the field this season, but the Falcons look to be competitive in sprints both for the girls and boys team and in hurdles as well as in the boys distance and mid-distance events, where a young core of runners shows promise.
“Both guys and girls sprints I think are going to be pretty good,” said Amor. “We have two stud hurdlers — Maryellen Schmalzried, she won 300 hurdles in conference, and Tanner Harmon on the guys side. He’s been tough to beat all year, and I don’t know anybody in our conference who’s going to touch him. Our freshmen guys, mid-distance and distance, are going to be tough. My assistant coach is the cross country coach as well, and he’s got the guys geared up and ready to go.”
Culver Military, meanwhile, should have some strong individuals but may struggle to some degree in team standings, while defending Rochester Sectional champ Culver Girls Academy looks to have another good showing in 2011.
“The boys, we’ve got some individuals that are going to do pretty well; we’re not a very strong team. We’re just looking for the younger guys to come along,” Chastain said. “We’ve got some individuals in events that are going to do pretty well — Alex Burke in the high jump and our distance runners are still young, but they’re going to do OK. Marcus Shannon, who hasn’t competed yet in indoors — he had mono and has just started training — will do pretty well when it comes to the 400 and possibly the 200.
“Then for the girls we’re going to have a fairly strong team. We’ve got some younger individuals as well as some seniors in there. We’re going to be fairly strong in most of the events with at least one person.”