TELLURIDE – Most high school track and field teams train for their seasons, well, on a track.
But Telluride doesn’t have an official track, or any kind of school track for its athletes to train on. But this seemingly major deficiency has not slowed the team down in the least.
Last spring, Telluride High School celebrated a breakout season at Regionals, bringing a whopping 15 athletes to the event and putting nine on the podium (five of which went on to compete at the 2A State Meet in Denver.)
Just three years prior, the entire Telluride High School Track and Field roster was just four students long.
This spring the team will attempt to keep its momentum going this season despite losing a number of high-ranking seniors last year, thanks to strong talent among the underclassmen as well as a deep coaching staff that includes two former THS track and field luminaries.
But as head coach Keith Hampton has learned, the team will have to get creative when it comes to their training regimen.
With no track, and a runway pit and shotput discus circle that is covered with snow for half the season, Hampton is forced to “make do.” He keeps a stack of orange cones and a distance measuring wheel in the back of his car, and every afternoon he scopes out a place that’s dry enough to make a track.
Sometimes the team uses the Telluride bike path adjacent to Hwy. 145 as its track. Other days, it might be a quiet street downtown. Later in the spring, they might venture out to the Mill Creek trail. Occasionally the team makes the trek to Montrose to train on their high school track, but most afternoons they can be found chasing 200-meter dry spots in downtown Telluride.
Hampton has in fact discovered that the THS parking lot is almost exactly 200-meters long – plus, it’s circular – so many days, runners can be found sprinting around the lot’s asphalt.
Yet there is also the “field,” aspect to the sport, for which Telluride’s athletes must also prepare.
Fortunately, THS track and field alumni Justin and Kevin Ludwig have returned to share some of their technical expertise as coaches this year.
Kevin was a sprinter and jumper for the team, and his brother Kevin was a sprinter and thrower. Both know that learning to jump or throw without an adequate winter training facility can be difficult. But according to Kevin – now a college track and field athlete at Montana State University – having use of a picture-perfect track and field facility isn’t a requirement for success in the sport.
“You can still do a lot by just learning proper technique,” he says, adding that he has hope that the THS track and field team will continue to grow.
“Track and Field provides some of the best cross-training you can get for any other sport, and can really make you a better athlete all around,” he says.
When it snows (as it often does in the spring, at 9,000 feet) the THS team takes their training indoors, where they work on starts, approaches to the long and high jump, and other techniques. It’s not the traditional approach to track and field training, but that hasn’t stopped the athletes from pursing lofty goals for themselves.
Colten Rogers was ranked ninth in State for the two-mile last season, finishing just out of the top ten at the States last year. He says that while the team’s lack of a traditional training facility can make things challenging, the group has at least one secret weapon: their coach, Keith Hampton.
“He’s probably one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever worked with, in any sport,” Rogers says of Hampton, who has stood at the helm of the THS track and field program since its revival five years ago. (He also coaches Telluride’s up-and-coming cross-country team.) “He’s willing to meet every athlete halfway – wherever they want to go, he will help them get there.”
Who needs a real track, anyway?