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Christian’s Sports Beat: Runners, on your mark

Hurricane High School track runners Justin Belcher (left) and Austin Casey during a recent workout at the Putnam County high school. Courtesy photo

For the most part, this winter has been relatively mild when it comes to temperature and precipitation, which has really helped the middle and high school track and field athletes prepare for the upcoming track season.

The good running conditions means the trend will probably continue that some of the best runners in the state will be coming out of the region that includes Cabell and Putnam counties.

Starting his third year as the head coach of the Hurricane High School track squad, Eric Cooper’s team is gearing up for an exciting season. I have found that staying in shape between cross country season and track season is important and Coach Cooper agrees.

“It’s very apparent that most of our runners put in some major work during the winter months,” he said. “Coming into the track season, they are looking strong; you can tell they have done a pretty good job preparing their bodies for the work, once we get into the season.”

There were some impressive team performances by local teams at the state championships last year with the Cabell Midland boys taking first place in the AAA division, followed by Hurricane, while the Winfield girls captured the crown in AAA.

Everyone probably has noticed a lot more younger runners out and about this past winter as the sport continues to grow in popularity. I asked Coach Cooper why he thought this was happening.

“There are more and more runners training during the cold months every year. When I was in high school (Cabell Midland), there would be just a handful of runners doing winter training, which separated those runners from the rest of the field. Now you have the bulk of the teams out training. It’s getting that much hard to get ahead on people. You have to train just to stay up or stay on level with everyone.”

Two years ago, the Hurricane girls team tied Winfield for the state championship.

For the second season, I am a distance runner for Hurricane Middle School, running in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races this season. The middle school team has a new boys coach this season, Coach Kristi Roberts, who was encouraged when over 200 students showed up the first day of practice on Feb. 27.

“I am really impressed on the number of student-athletes that have come out for the team. It just shows a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. Practices have gone well and we should be competitive in most events,” Roberts said.

Hurricane Middle came in second to Winfield Middle last year in the Mid-Valley Athletic Conference.

I really like running, because it’s fun and I like having a healthy lifestyle. Coach Roberts said she has noticed that with a lot of the other athletes.

“I think more understand at an earlier age these days about being in shape, and they know that track and field will get them pointed in the right direction,” Roberts said.

Hurricane Middle will be hosting a meet at the high school track on April 10 and the conference championship meet later in early May.

It’s obvious that the sport is growing in the area, and I think it’s growing from the ground up with all the young people involved like myself. Coach Cooper reminded me that for young runners, it’s great to compete, but there is something else we shouldn’t forget, saying, “I think it should always be fun. You should always enjoy what you are doing and naturally as you continue to put in the work, try to enjoy the process and young runners will start to see the results and their performances will continue.”

Up next now is hearing the starter say, “Runners, on your mark,” as track season is now here.

Christian Deiss, 12, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.


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