The frigid outdoor temperatures haven’t stopped coach Clay Calkins and the Bobcats from preparing for another season of indoor track & field.
With final exams and the holidays quickly approaching, it can be hard for coaches to maintain a connection and level of focus with their student-athletes. Calkins has faced added pressure in recent weeks knowing his team’s first meet of the season comes right in the middle of it all.
“This time of year, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s an added challenge.”
In the midst of the chaos of the holiday season and finals, the Bobcats will begin their season by traveling to Huntington, West Virginia this Thursday to face Marshall in a dual meet.
The Bobcats will face a familiar opponent in the Thundering Herd. This will be the third time in the last four years that they have traveled to the campus of Marshall to open up their season.
Ohio is treating the meet as a preseason meet to sort of test out the waters and see who fits where on the team.
Not everyone will participate in the meet, though. On Thursday, there will be no distance events giving the distance runners added time to recover from the harsh cross country season.
“With the athletes that are going to be competing, we are trying to get them all on the same page into a competitive atmosphere just to see how their training went in the fall,” Calkins said.
The meet will be a test and will show who is good to go, as well as who needs better training and conditioning for the coming months. The meet will also be a critical test for the freshmen to show if they can rise to the occasion and adjust to the much higher level of intensity college track & field brings.
“[This week] is a starting process for someone like Olivia Brewer,” Calkins said.
Brewer is one of two freshmen that will be competing for the Bobcats in Huntington. The other is Abby Moore, one of the top throwers coming into the year for the Bobcats.
“We are trying to see how those athletes respond to the Division I competition level,” Calkins continued.
For other Bobcats like high jumper Atiya Spaulding, the experience is already there. Now, the expectations have been set.
“There’s a couple athletes, like Atiya, who we are trying to get qualified for the MAC Championships,” Calkins said. “So it’s a good benchmark meet to see if the fall training went well.”
Calkins is confident he has found leaders in the facets of the team’s event sections.
The Bobcats are trying something new and have went away from the idea of captains. Instead, the Bobcats have event leaders for each event group.The event leaders meet with their respective event groups and then meet with one another before team meetings. It is a unique approach by Calkins that he thinks will translate to a more efficient rate of success for his team.
“They are trying to keep everyone on the same page without direct coaching intervention,” he said of the team’s event leaders. “It’s redesigning team culture and a way to get everyone on the same page.”
Despite the meet being more of a test for his team, Calkins hopes it will be the initial stepping stone to a successful winter season.
“If the training went well and hopefully it did, we want to maintain that fitness level when we get back in January.”