By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE On Wednesday afternoon, indoor track teams from Eldred, Ellenville, Liberty, Monticello, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley high schools gathered in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the campus of Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) in Loch Sheldrake for a developmental meet.
It was the latest of many developmental meets which will be held during this 2011-2012 season at SCCC.
The generous dimensions of the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse give the athletes much more room for their events than practices at their own schools. The large tarp which divides the basketball court from the other half of the fieldhouse is rolled up to the roof, which provides room for the shot put and high jump events. Runners compete on a multi-lane, white-lined track which has six lanes for sprints and three lanes all the way around. The track is 180 meters around, which is 20 meters less than the typical 200-meter track at other indoor venues, including West Point. At the SCCC track, 8 1/2 laps equals 1 mile.
For the dozens of athletes, it’s a chance to improve their times and prepare for the weekly developmental meets held at West Point. For everyone, it’s simply a better environment to practice.
“We run in some of the hallways during our practices,” Liberty girls’ coach Debbie Simpson described. “We use the long, connecting hallways to practice the relay events and the hurdles.”
“If the conditions are safe, we run on the roads near the school,” said Tri-Valley runner Jim Bernstein. “And one of our Agriculture teachers, Mr. [Robert] Hayes, snowblows the track for us. If the weather is really bad, we run in the hallways.”
While the meets at West Point are also considered developmental, the top five or six times or distances for events like the shot put are officially recorded at those West Point meets. Also, athletes can compete in multiple events.
“At West Point, all of us are doing two or three events,” said Jimmy Bernstein. “So it’s a little different for us than the meets here at Sullivan.”
“For the meets here, Coach [Joe] Iatauro has us do a workout within the meet itself,” Bernstein added. “We just keep working to get better and better.”
There are no winners formally recognized after the events at the SCCC meets and the focus for the athletes is on improving their times, distances or heights.
At the SCCC meets, the coaches keep track of that information so they can chart the improvements made by their athletes.
“[Liberty boys’ team Coach] Hazel [Yaun] and I keep track of every score, mark for the high jump and distance for the shot put,” said Simpson. “We have records from all of these meets here at Sullivan.”
Simpson is glad to see the Liberty athletes compete regularly at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
“Between all of the Sullivan County schools and Ellenville, there are a lot of very good athletes here,” she commented. “These meets provide good competition for everyone.”
At the last developmental meet of the season at SCCC, which will be held in February, official scores and times will be kept throughout the event. Once all of those scores and times are verified, trophies will be presented to the top three boys’ and top three girls’ teams.
THE INSIDE TRACK
What: Sullivan County Indoor Track Developmental Meets
When: Monday/Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Paul Gerry Fieldhouse @ SUNY Sullivan
Facility: Multi-lane 180 meter track with interior area (length of two-full-length basketball courts) for field events, including long jump, high jump and shot put.
Who: Track teams from all Sullivan County schools and Ellenville participate.
Purpose: To help prepare athletes for indoor meets at West Point and also stay in shape for spring outdoor season