By KERRI HOOVER
Track and field is not your average, everyday sport that combines people of similar builds and abilities to compete together as a team. The beauty of track and field lies within the combination of a variety of people with different abilities and strengths, who combine into a team that thrives on personal and group growth, determination, and communication.
“There’s no better community and atmosphere in school athletics. Track has some of the best people you will ever compete with,” sophomore Jackson Folnsbee said.
Besides the sense of community and atmosphere, track and field stands apart from all other school athletics because there is no distinction between the junior varsity and varsity teams. Everyone who is interested in joining track for the spring season makes the varsity team – whether you are a seasoned senior or a first time freshman. With three different types of events – running, jumping, and throwing – each eager participant will be able to find something that he or she will enjoy and be good at.
The track and field team is also the largest team sport at Bellefonte, with the number of participants exceeding 80 when the season kicked off on March 4. The overall team is divided into two teams, with the girls’ team having 45 teammates, while the boys have 36. Even though the boys’ numbers were lower compared to the girls, it did not interfere with their ability to perform well throughout the season.
Since the team is so large, it makes sense to have a large coaching staff to fit hand in hand with the wide variety of people and abilities. In fact, there are eight coaches that guide the team – one head coach along with seven acting assistant and volunteer coaches.
Mr. Seth Miller led the team for his eleventh year as the head coach while also serving as a sprinting and hurdling coach. Bellefonte High’s own biology teacher Mr. Chris Freidhoff also aids as an assistant coach, but mainly focuses his attention on jumping (specifically long and triple) and occasionally sprinting or high jump.
“It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of my job. I love seeing the kids in a more relaxed area and working hard on something athletic instead of academic. The one thing I really enjoy is creating strong relationships with my athletes and students that go beyond the classroom. We have such great kids, it’s an awesome job,” Mr. Freidhoff said.
Even though the Bellefonte track and field time went yet another season without a home track to call their own, their success for the season was not hindered by losing their home field advantage. The boys’ track and field team ended the season with 7-2 while placing second in the Mountain League Championship and seventh in Districts.
Two notable performances on the boys’ team occurred during the season with Nolan Weaver being the fifth longest triple jumper in Bellefonte’s history as a freshman, while Jacob Hummel being the fifth longest long jumper in Bellefonte’s history as a freshman. The girls’ team on the other hand, ended their season 6-3 also placing second in the Mountain League while placing sixth at Districts. During the season on the girls’ team, Chelsea Robson joined Jacob and Nolan in breaking school records in regards to jumping. At Shippensburg, she broke the school’s record for the longest long jump out of all the junior girls that competed in the same event years prior.
With Rogers Stadium still being under renovation, the seniors are bittersweet that they did not have the opportunity to compete on their home track, but they are looking forward to the promising future ahead for Bellefonte’s track and field program after construction is completed.
“The track was not finished this year, so we had to work our way around it by practicing down at the middle school. We made ends meet as our team had a great season. But, I am excited to see how well the team will benefit by having a home meet in the future seasons,” senior Jasmine Kozel said.