With a foot of snow outside, the Big Piney High School track team practices inside early in the season.
BIG PINEY – The snow is starting to melt out at the Big Piney track, though probably not as fast as head coach Bill Lehr would like as he and his coaching staff work to get a team of 59 athletes ready to compete this spring season.
“It’s been tough with this much snow,” he said. “We need to work on field events. We can only do so much with our sprinters and hurdlers inside.”
The coach says typically by the onset of preseason track practice, all the snow has melted off and there is no issue in getting the team prepared.
“Last year, we were out running on the first day,” he said. “This is our first year with so much snow. You just do with what you got.”
Despite not being able to practice outside much yet at this point in the preseason, Lehr is pleased with the large group of athletes he has on the roster.
“Our biggest group is the juniors and we have some really good seniors we’re working with,” he said.
The head coach is joined by fellow coach Terry Cain, hurdle coach Jess Nugent and weight coach Sean Munger this year. Lehr has been with the Big Piney track and field team since 1985, where he worked as an assistant coach up until taking the reins as a head coach in the 2009 season.
Last year, the girls varsity team brought home a second-place finish at state, while the varsity boys team picked up sixth.
“We lost half a dozen seniors that helped us out that will be tough to replace,” the coach said. “We’re bringing back probably half to three-quarters of the kids that have been out for track before.”
As the snow continues to melt, Lehr hopes the team can soon transition outside to work on relay exchanges, hurdles, distance events and more.
“Our distance kids need to know where they’re at,” he noted.
The team brings in a young group of throwers but has a few returning who brought solid performances to regionals last year.
“I expect them to come through and do well for us again this year,” the head coach noted. “We have some really good hurdlers and sprinters. Hopefully we can get some young kids mixed in field events. If we can do that, we’ll be OK.”
The team will have two weeks of preseason practice under its belt before heading to Casper for its first meet. Lehr says the opening meet of the season will be a good opportunity to get out and compete on a track.
“Our kids come in pretty good shape from wrestling, basketball and swimming,” he said. “If we can get them prepared, we will have the opportunity to do well.”
To see success, he hopes the team can stay healthy while also catching a few breaks.
“We always have high expectations for kids,” he said. “They know that and are willing to compete. Our kids down here aren’t lacking and are always up to a challenge.”
Right now, the coach says they are doing everything they can to get in shape and iron out technique issues for various events to start the season off strong.
“We’re trying to get the kids in shape, find a base and work from there,” he said. “We’re just working really hard; they are a great group of kids with a strong work ethic. You can’t ask for anything better.”
The team’s first meet will be the Glen Legler Early Bird in Casper this coming Saturday, March 18, beginning at 10 a.m.
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