Spring has sprung and that means it's time for another track-and-field season.
The Muskies have been doing fitness training since early February and coach John Dutton noted that his squad has been working hard to get ready for their first meet of the season, which is slated for April 17 in Baudette, Mn. (weather permitting).
The black-and-gold originally was slated to open its season tomorrow at a meet at Falls High School, but it was cancelled due to there being too much frost still in the ground.
“Our athletes have been working really hard in preparation for the upcoming track-and-field season,” Dutton noted.
"We started fitness training in early February and our numbers have steadily grown as other sport seasons have come to a close.
“Currently we have around 45 athletes on our roster, although we may lose eight-10 of those as soccer tryouts progress this week,” he conceded.
Among the Grade 7/8 athletes for the Muskies this season are Julia Guertin, Parker Boyd, Leah Seguin (Donald Young School), Alexis Gate (Nestor Falls School), Nick Pearson, Dawson Pollard, Thre Windigo, Nathan Spuzak, and Trent Wilson (Donald Young School).
The Grade 9 contingent is comprised of Anna Gagne, Emma Bone, Kathryn Fischer, Ayianna Gagne, Cassie Krawchuk, Joyce Wu, Maya Davis, Olivia Eldridge, Emma Toriseva, Montana Plasky, Matthew Watts, Andre Hendrikx, and Christian Armstrong.
The Grade 10s include Kenna Spuzak, Ashlyn Beck, Braydon Christiansen, Josh McInnes, and James Furlong.
And the senior crew (Grade 11/12) is comprised of Janelle Clouston, Alacea Yerxa, Katrina Slomke, Rachel Anderson, Grace Petsnick, Jacy Gagne, Michaela Yerxa, Kamryn Sandelovich, Courtney Sinclair, Star Martin, Tori Toriseva, Ben Olson, Sean Huziak, Caelin Mayhew, Carson Noga, Owen Riches, Devon George, Brady Meeks, Callum Galusha, and Ryan Stewart.
“Up until [last] week, our training has focused on overall fitness, endurance, coordination and strength,” Dutton noted.
"We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring so that we can start working more on event specific training.
“As you can appreciate, with nearly 50 athletes, we need to get outdoors so we have the space to work on the throwing and jumping disciplines,” he stressed.
Dutton feels as though the squad's strength will mostly come from the returning senior athletes, as they set a very positive tone in practice and act as great role models for the large number of younger athletes who have joined the black-and-gold this season.
“Our strength is also in numbers. Larger numbers of athletes affords us the ability to pursue a greater variety of events and fill up most of the relay events, which as the season progresses will make us a more competitive team,” he reasoned.
“As far as individuals, we have some great returning athletes who we anticipate will do well, along with a new group of really strong runners at sprint, middle, and distance events.”
The Muskies have seven returning athletes who qualified for OFSAA last year in Petsnick, Noga, Huziak, Sandelovich, Jacy Gagne, Mayhew, and Olson, and Dutton noted that they all have very specific goals and who hope to return to the all-Ontarios.
As far as team goals, Dutton said that it's a little early to get very specific, but for now the Muskies have four main goals: run fast, jump high, throw far, and have fun trying.
“Our mindset heading into our first meet is simple. For many, this is a brand new experience, so we will be keeping an open mind and testing ourselves at the various events,” he noted.
"Many of these athletes are looking to see where their strengths are, so will be trying a number of events.
“Part of our job will be to help our athletes manage their nerves, stay calm, stay focused, and stay injury free,” he stressed.
Dutton also noted that he and the rest of the coaching staff will be assessing the performances at the first meet in Baudette so they can find the “best fit” for the athletes.
“Going forward, this will allow us to develop a season training plan that brings the best out in our athletes,” he reasoned.
“I have no doubt that our kids will give 100 percent effort. This meet will help us determine where to best channel that effort.”
The Muskies next meet will be a junior varsity one in the Falls on April 18.
Fort High then will return to Falls High School for a varsity meet on April 23 before going back to Baudette on April 29.
The Muskies then will head to Dryden for a pair of competitions on May 8 and 16 before wrapping the regular season up with a junior varsity meet on May 20 in Baudette.
The NWOSSAA championships then are slated for May 28-29 in Thunder Bay with OFSAA to follow on June 6-8 at Guelph University.