There aren’t many teams that get over a month off from competition in mid-season.
But ever since the Valley City State University track and field team last ran a full meet Feb. 16, the majority of the team has been training for the outdoor season, which starts Saturday when members of the team go to Dickinson State for the first outdoor meet of the year.
“That was a good opportunity for us to train,” said coach Ken Frenette, who previously coached at Campbell University in North Carolina, which has a smaller transition period between the seasons.
It’s an opportunity he took full advantage of, working to build on both his athletes’ skills and their overall fitness.
“When you have a break between indoor and outdoor it gives you the opportunity to regroup and then actually train, and not detrain,” he said.
In the outdoor season, the team hopes to build on its success from inside.
The team potentially returns two national qualifiers from the indoor season, Wayne Engelhard and Darien Moore.
Engelhard missed the finals in the 800 meter run at the national meet, but will again be a contender in the distance events.
“We expect him to do better than he did indoors,” Frenette said.”I know he expects that.”
Moore was originally expected to redshirt the outdoor season after finishing with All American status in the weight throw and shot put events.
Moore, a junior college transfer from California, is in his junior year of eligibility in the outdoor season but was eligible as a freshman in the indoor season.
“We’re in the mindset right now that he’s tentatively going to compete outdoors,” Frenette said.
On the women’s side, the Vikings return All American javelin thrower Amber Volanti, and Frenette said middle-distance runner Anna Fuka has an “outside chance” of qualifying nationally if she stays healthy.
Frenette said the biggest difference with moving to the outdoor season is leaving the controlled environment of an indoor meet.
“(Indoors,) you don’t have to worry about the wind, you don’t have to worry about the rain,” he said “Going from indoors to outdoors, the environment can be a factor.”
Fortunately, the mild weather has given the team the opportunity to do something it didn’t during the indoor season — practice on a track.
“The snow being gone is definately a big advantage,” Frenette said. “Distance runners, we can get out and run on the roads, but throwers and sprinters, they’ve had to be flexible and improvise.
“Now, they’re exactly where they need to be.”