The Morgan Indoor Track and Field Club competed at its second event of the season last Friday and Saturday at Weber State University. Although the club is only in its first official year, these young Morgan athletes are proving that they warrant attention and respect even among the bigger schools in the 4A and 5A divisions.
Although several of the athletes worked on their skills last year, Morgan never competed in any indoor meets as a school until this year.
Last summer Morgan High School Vice Principal and Athletic Director Ren Hoopes called Morgan resident Jamie West to see if she would help coach the school’s outdoor track and field. West’s love for the sport has been developed over the past 15 years while actively competing, coaching and continuing to run. She was excited to be involved and decided to give it a go.
West knew that having an indoor track and field program would be a key to having a successful outdoor season, so she decided to start one here. Indoor is where you train and build your base for a successful outdoor program.
West reached out to her network and began calling around to the people she knew who had helped with previous track and field events and invited them to a coaches meeting. The coaches have been holding organized practices since December. Approximately 30 students gather regularly after school, dedicated to improving their times, jumps and throws.
Indoor track encompasses a wide breadth of skills and 18 different events—sprints, hurdles, distance runs, long jump, high jump, shot put and pole vaulting. The range of events requires a lot of help to run a successful program. West, who is head coach, specializes in hurdles and sprints. Assistant Coaches Brennen Fuller and Cherilyn Reid train the distance runners with Reid also helping with sprints. Assistant Coach Julie Duerden imparts her knowledge on those participating in the high and long jumps, and Assistant Coach Blake Nagel helps with the throwing events.
Indoor Track and Field is officially designated as a club sport rather than a team sport, which means the club is not sponsored by the school district or sanctioned by the state high school league. This also means that they do not receive any funding from the school or the district. Because of this, the coaching positions are generally filled with volunteers willing to give their time and talents to help these young athletes achieve their goals.
Many hours have been put in by these coaches helping to not only prepare each athlete for the next meet, but as Coach West says, “My main goal is to help the kids learn a lot about being a TEAM, pushing themselves, and setting/reaching goals. I want them to find the joy that is in track and field and the life lessons that come out of it.”
So far the club members seem to be excelling across both of these objectives as they not only cheer each other on, but have achieved some great results as well.
Britten Duerden has won the high jump for the last three meets in a row. Duerden also competed on her own at the BYU Track and Field meet. In each of her jumps she cleared at least 5’6”, a high enough jump that sent her into competition with the boys, where she placed eighth. She has also placed in the hurdles and long jump every time she has competed in them.
Chandler Weitzel placed first in the 60 yard dash at the Utah State meet. She placed second in the 200 yard dash as well as the 55 yard dash at BYU. At Weber State, she finished first in the 200 yard dash. For distance events, Candace Gunn won the 2 mile event at the USU meet. Among the jumpers, Jacob Rice cleared 18 feet at the Weber State meet landing him in sixth place. Chainia Nagel has been very strong in the shot put and has placed in both meets in which she has competed.
In another strong finish, Smash Lloyd took third after clearing 13 feet in the pole vault. Coach West has been overwhelmed with not only how the kids have done on the track, but also how they are doing overall. She shares, “I have been really impressed with all the kids’ work ethics and their ability to really support and cheer each other on. It has been great to see them try new things and not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone. It really has been a great season.”
Right now the club is gearing up for their biggest meet. Indoor State will be held Feb. 7 and 8 at the Olympic Oval in Kearns. After that, they have one more meet before moving on to outdoor events.
Coach West is delighted with the experiences gained among the indoor track athletes and excited to see how this foundation will translate to even more success in the outdoor program. As a motivational leader, West is helping the athletes set outdoor goals to place in the top three in region.
Coach West welcomes all who want to participate in outdoor track and field to come to a meeting on Feb. 26 at 2:40 p.m. held at the high school. All students are invited to join even if they didn’t participate in indoor track.