Despite cold temperatures and rough winter weather, the Caesar Rodney High School indoor boys and girls track teams practices outside several times per week in order to stay in shape and prepare itself for winter tournaments and the spring season.
Two weeks ago, when temperatures dipped to the lowest they have been so far this winter, it was tough to find anyone spending an extended amount of time outdoors.
But those who passed by Caesar Rodney High School on one of those frigid days after school had ended witnessed a collection of students doing just that.
It had nothing to do with immunity to the cold or braving it just to say they could. It had to do with commitment.
The Rider boys and girls indoor track teams practice outside several times per week, regardless of weather conditions, because they are dedicated to bettering themselves as runners.
“We work hard every day,” senior Clyde Broderick, 17, said. “In the snow, the rain, the wind, we’ve been working hard every day so we’re always ready.”
Boys head coach Mike Tucci said the team practices outdoors because there is no indoor practice track. And even though it can get uncomfortable outdoors his runners continue to show up, this year in greater numbers then ever before.
In his first year as head coach five years ago, Tucci did not even have a group half the size as this year’s, which numbers approximately 60 runners, and with his no-cuts policy he uses those numbers as a way to motivate his team to come to practice.
“This year, because of the numbers, we can’t take everybody to every meet because there’s not enough room on the bus,” he said. “So they know they need to come to practice or they can’t go.”
Tucci added that he likes to mix things up in practice and keep it fun for the team and help them stay loose.
“There’s days we can work on certain things, but some days where a game of touch football can be great to keep them loose,” he said.
As far as the performance of the boys and girls teams, Tucci said everything is building toward three specific goals: first, do well in the Henlopen Conference meet; second, do well in the state meet; and third, prepare for the spring season.
Girls head coach Mike Roscoe, along with Tucci, said conferences, which take place Wednesday, Feb. 4, are up for grabs this season, and that the Riders should be right in the mix.
“I think we have just as good a chance as any team in the conference,” Roscoe said. “There’s a lot of good teams this year, it’s going to be a fight. There’re at least four teams that could take this thing.”
Tucci echoed that thought on the boys side and said the Riders are going to have to play heavily off their strengths to come out with a title.
“I’m hoping for at least top three,” he said. “But our sights are set on the first spot.”
Team unity, Roscoe said, has been a big strength for his girls this year and he hopes his runners motivate themselves at conferences with the realization they aren’t running just for themselves, but also for the other girls on the team.
“They take care of each other,” he said. “They’re always very good about watching out for each other and making sure everyone’s got what they need when we’re at the big meets.
“For example, at one meet our spring relay team was on the track, and I knew there were some girls at each end of the track. What I didn’t know is that most of them were up on the bleachers that overlook the track, screaming and yelling for their teammates.”
Senior Eric Line, 18, said with conferences looming that he thinks he and his teammates are progressing in a positive manner, which increases their chances of getting to the top.
“People are continually improving on what they’re doing,” Line said. “We keep working hard at practice and getting better.”
Following conferences the Riders will travel to the state tournament, an event Tucci said is a lot of fun for the runners but tough to predict finishes for.
“Winter is tough because they combine Division I and Division II, so you have all the best D-I and D-II teams, and it’s really hard to score,” he said.
With the format of the winter tournament in mind, Tucci tries to use the indoor season as a warm-up for the spring.
“If we score well, we score well,” he said. “We’re getting ready for the spring though.”
Senior Kristen Allen, 18, agreed with Tucci and said she and her teammates advise those interested in running spring track to run the indoor season.
“Usually if anyone says they want to do outdoor, we tell them that you have to do indoor so you can prepare yourself for outdoor,” Allen said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to be prepared at all.”
Email Brian Citino at firstname.lastname@example.org