NEW ULM - The Minnesota Valley Lutheran boy's and girl's track teams have not had many opportunities to practice outdoors within the first three weeks of the season.
However, it has not seemed as bad as a year ago, when there was still snow on the ground by the time April hit.
"The first week of track was nicer, we got to run outside quite a bit," said senior Maggie Rauh. "But now it's been so cold that we're basically stuck inside trying to share the gym with softball and baseball."
Coach Rollin Timm said that the time his team has had to practice inside has presented some opportunities to experiment with training.
"We've learned many creative ways to condition," Timm said. "We do more cross training-type of exercises to work on conditioning, develop fitness in that way."
Timm said one of the biggest points of emphasis for indoor practices has been taking steps to prevent foot, ankle and shin injuries that can occur with the change in atmosphere once the weather starts warming up.
"It makes it a lot harder when we're able to go outside on the nice, soft grass," Timm said.
MVL's lone state qualifier from last season was its boy's 4x100 team, which placed seventh overall. Junior Seth Kroells and sophomore Lukas Borgwardt are returning members of that state-qualifying team.
"That was a great experience," Kroells said. "We got a longer time to practice and get better-acquianted to actually running. The practices, in general, were a lot harder and better."
Other members of the boy's team who will likely be big contributors this year include junior Seth Wiechman (hurdles), sophomore Bryan Kokesch (distance, sprints) and senior Barrett Carlson (throws).
Kokesch and Carlson are both students at New Ulm Cathedral who are part of the MVL-NUC co-op for track and field. Having students from the cross-town school can create an issue in scheduling practice time, but not much else.
"The kids are used to a lot of the co-op sports with New Ulm Cathedral and New Ulm public with soccer and hockey and tennis and different things like that," Timm said. "Just scheduling the timing is the biggest thing."
The girl's team has not had any state qualifiers in the past two seasons.
Along with Rauh (sprints, long jump), Timm expects some of his other big contributors to be junior Brianna Holtmeyer (distance) and junior Kate Carlson (throws). High-jumpers Martha Balge and Kira Fosburgh are also expected to contribute.
MVL has a good number of athletes who compete in more than one faction of track and field - among sprints, distance, throws and jumps. Timm said this is because his teams don't have the numbers to have most athletes only focusing on one area at a time.
Kroells, who throws discus and shot put along with competing in the 4x100 among other sprints events, said it is not too challenging to spread himself thin in track and field.
"I come through football and basketball where I'm constantly moving," Kroells said. "Here, sprinting for me isn't that much of a pullover from football or basketball. Throwing is a lot of the same muscle groups as sprinting, so I can just use the same."
As the football team's starting running back and one of the basketball team's starting forwards, Kroells said track is a great way to stay in shape for other sports.
"What I do in track is I continue to work for football," Kroells said. "That's where it really pays off and what works in football really helps in track."
The Chargers will compete at an indoor meet at 6 p.m. on Friday at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
"It will be a good time for us to experience what this season might be like," Rauh said. "We're obviously not going to be perfect, but we'll find which sort of events we fit in and see how the season goes from there."