As Jeremy Lautzenheiser stretches out his arms for the last time, he steps up to the starting line.
He eyes the other opponents lining up next time him as he takes a deep breath and places his feet in the blocks.
His arms extend outwards catching the rest of his body weight; his hands feeling the cool rubber track beneath them.
This race was obviously not taking place at UT.
For the first season ever, our track team is experiencing a major loss: their track. Instead, the team is forced to run on the intramural field.
“Running on the grass is definitely challenging,” Lautzenheiser said. “Turning the corners on the field is not smooth as they would be on the track. And the field is only 300 meters instead of the traditional 400 meter track.”
Construction on the soccer field and track began in January, and is predicted to be finished around August. So for the rest of the school year, the track team has to find alternate ways to train and compete.
“A lot of things are going to be different this year,” Amber Eiesenberg said. “We usually host a track meet around April, but this year it had to be cancelled. It’s unfortunate because it was always a fun meet-high schoolers were invited to come run it with us.”
Even routine practice exercises have changed.
Instead of doing the customary 400 meter, 800 meter, and 1200 meter workouts, the team now does 300 meters, 600 meters, and 900 meters.
The whole team cannot run on the new, grassy track at the same time either. Instead, the team is broken up into groups, and only one group can run at a time to avoid collisions.
The boys’ team, who usually runs with the girls’ team, now has to practice an hour earlier to make the path less crowded.
And if it is not crowded enough with just the team, other students and classes also use the field. Practices always seem to overlap with fitness classes that use the intramural field during class time.
Runners have to dodge potholes, oncoming students, and each other while trying not to fall on the slippery grass turning sharp corners.
Running now requires an intense focus to multitask.
Despite the absence of a track, the team is still finding success.
“Even though it is a bit rough now, it will benefit us in the end,” Eiesenberg said. “When we get back on the track workouts will seem a lot easier. Practices are still fun; we don’t need a track to be a team.”
The team will continue to train every morning on the intramural field, getting ready for their first meet at USF on March 7. There, they will show everyone that you can take the team off the track, but never take the track out of the team.