Ohio needed its athletes to return to health as the end of the indoor season loomed.
But the Bobcats only had one week off in between the end of the indoor season and the beginning of the outdoor season.
“The recovery phase for running and getting fit enough to be competitive, it just takes a while for that turnaround,” coach Clay Calkins said.
The Bobcats have competed without Gracie Huffman, one of their top sprinters in the 400 meter. Huffman has a stress fracture, so Calkins said he is trying to return her to competition slowly.
Despite Huffman’s injury, the Bobcats will open their outdoor season Friday and Saturday as they travel to High Point for the Bob Davidson Spring Kick-Off.
Ohio doesn’t have much time to prepare for the outdoor season, which doesn’t bode well for a solid amount of recovery time.
“You just gotta push yourself throughout the week in those few days you have before you have to start resting for competition,” Avery Kerns, a sophomore high jumper, said.
“We need to improve,” Calkins said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Track isn’t a sport that can be won with a defining play. The difference between winning and losing depends on an athlete’s training. Though track doesn’t lend itself to a defining play, the Bobcats are still focused on doing well in the MAC.
“Scoring a little higher in the MAC is the end all goal,” Kerns said. “And we’ll all push ourselves individually to get to that goal.”
But perhaps scoring higher in the conference this season will be a legitimate challenge. The MAC has improved, with Kerns saying it’s ridiculous how it has gotten better.
For example, Kerns said senior high jumper Taylor Smith told her that a 1.61 meter jump (5 feet 3 inches) would place at the MAC Championship.
“Now, (5 feet 6 inches) to (5 feet 8 inches) is like getting last place,” Kerns said. “You’re not just getting one girl at 6-foot, you’re getting a handful of them that are being able to pull that out.”
As the Bobcats prepare for a new outdoor season in an improved conference, they’ll still need to manage two things: training and injuries.
It’s all they can control.
“We just gotta be dedicated moving into the outdoor season and dedicated to the task at hand," Calkins said. "And that’s improvement."