WOODLAND PARK – It was practice – sort of – as usual for the Woodland Park High School track and field team last week.
Shot putters were throwing. High jumpers were leaping. And long jumpers were flying through the air. It was a wild scene – especially since it was all taking place in the school’s gyms and hallways.
“You can only do as much as you can,” said Woodland Park junior Jonathon Hinton. “You have to be flexible.” Hinton is a sprinter. He, like the rest of the team, was forced inside last week when a winter-type storm blasted the area. On Thursday, the track and football fields were covered in about eight inches of snow as temperatures dipped into the teens by mid afternoon.
“This is definitely different for me,” said senior sprinter Lexi Price. “I came from Texas. It would be 100 degrees right now, or at least 90. But it’s like winter out here.”
The athletes and coaches seemed to take things in stride as they prepared for last weekend’s Ray Campbell Invitational meet at Fountain-Fort Carson.
Among those most at ease amidst the chaos was longtime Woodland Park assistant coach and head sprints coach Dan Makris.
“We’ve done this before,” said Makris, 75, who has coached at the school for 40 years “Last year we were outside almost every day. This year that hasn’t been the case. We adjust.”
Nearly all of the track and field athletes are affected in an adverse way when practices are forced inside. But the sprinters are arguably affected the most. They have to most of their inside training in the hallway on the west side of the gym near the library.
“It’s 99 yards from water fountain to door,” said first-year assistant sprints coach Jennifer Royer. “The sprinters get their work in there and so do the hurdlers.”
Royer is a 1991 Rampart graduate. She ran sprints as the Rams girls squad raced its way to a state title her senior year
“We didn’t have to deal with these types of conditions very often,” she recalled.
Makris and Royer are feverishly working to help the Panthers’ sprint teams reach elite status. The boys last sent teams to state in 2007 and 2008 when Ben Fischer was setting school records in the 200. The girls finished fourth at state as a team in 2004.
“The kids we have out want to be here and want to participate,” Makris said. “But there are other good athletes who are at this school who should be out and could be helping us.”