South Tama's track and field teams have begun practicing for the upcoming season, despite the cold, snowy weather outdoors.
While temperatures remain below freezing and snow continues to fall during the waning weeks of winter, the Trojans are training for their short indoor season. Both teams have been using the STC Partnership Center as their primary practice facility.
"Things are going really great," STC girls' track coach Emily Chyma said Monday afternoon. "We have a lot of girls out this year. We started with 40 that signed up and we've kind of whittled our way down to 33 right now. That's probably the most that we've had out in the past couple of years.
"They're getting a bit stir crazy already," she added. "So it's a good day to come out and enjoy the weather. You can only run around in those circles for so long before you get bored. Granted we do run around in circles a lot, but not in a hot, small gym."
South Tama's boys squad began practicing on Feb. 10 without any of the Trojans who were playing basketball or wrestling. The Trojans have 42 athletes for the team as of Monday, when the winter athletes began their spring season.
"We got the basketball kids today here for the first time," STC boys' track coach George Kuhter said. "It's nice to get everybody back and into the groove. I'd like a few more out. There are a few wrestlers and basketball players that I'm still trying to get. I don't think they are going to come out. I'd like about 10 more and then we'd have a nice number."
The Trojans enjoyed their Partnership Center to themselves Monday, but they can't wait for the temperatures to warm-up so they can hit the outdoor track.
"It's inside and it's loud," Kuhter said. "It's a little bit different. There are no girls around and no middle schoolers around. I can kind of let them let their hair out a bit, as long as they're not being offensive or snarky with each other.
"As soon as we reach 40 for two days straight, we're outside," Kuhter said. "They can bundle themselves up and we can do more things outside where we have more space."
The STC girls enjoyed a more relaxing and entertaining practice Monday. They ran a few hills east of the STC track before sledding and building a snow fort.
"We were going to have them snow plow today," Chyma said. "We were going to hook up sleds to them and have them run around the track, but we thought we better not do that today."
Despite the fun day on Monday, the STC girls have been working hard since starting practice on Feb. 17. Both squads have been running inside the Partnership Center and trying to get into shape before the indoor season starts next week.
"Strength and conditioning are our main focus," Kuhter said. "We're trying to get them into good habits right now. They're starting to get their focus back."
Chyma agreed, saying her girls will soon begin working on their specific events.
"These first two weeks are a lot of conditioning," Chyma said. "As this week tapers off and into next week, it's going to be more of a focus on hurdles, throws and jumps. They have to have some sort of base or we can't go anywhere with those specific events."
Each team will participate in three or four indoor meets before their outdoor meets begin in late March. The indoor meets will serve as a preseason for the main season. The STC boys will start their indoor season on Thursday at the University of Iowa. Kuhter said he's going to send about half of the team to Iowa City. His team will also compete at Pella and Wartburg College this month.
"They're ready to go," Kuhter said. "If we could get them running right now, we'd do it and it would be fun to get them doing. We just have to go back and revisit some things and get rid of bad habits."
The STC girls will participate in their first meet on March 11 at Iowa State University in Ames. They will also compete at the University of Northern Iowa and Wartburg College during the indoor season.
"We're going to split the team up this year and send a few to each one, "Chyma said. "That way we get a base to see how everybody is doing, instead of trying to take the whole entire team."