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Winter Track Finds Creative Ways to Practice

This 2017-18 winter has been one of the coldest in Massachusetts history. The last time it was this cold this long was in 1918, according to records kept by the National Weather Service. “Usually you get a couple days of cold air and it moves off, but this is just a consistent flow from the Arctic," says National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.

Massachusetts did not have a day above freezing for 14 straight days, and Walpole was no exception. This weather has put a strain on winter sports; however, no sports team has been hit harder than Winter Track.

Boys Distance always gathers and stretches at the back of the History wing (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

Track is allotted thirty minutes in the gym at the beginning of each practice, but unlike other sports, they do not have an indoor facility dedicated to them. This forces sprinters to practice in the hallways while mid-distance and distance runners have to bundle up and run outside.

Mid-Distance runs laps in the Walpole High School parking lot (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

“It’s not for everyone. Some are very hesitant on gutting out the cold temperatures,” said senior captain Sean Corriveau. “But lots of our guys are driven by the mental and physical training we get along the way.”

Distance runners are used to practicing outside during the winter season, but temperatures have never been this low for this long. Normally the runners practice outside in the high school parking lot; however, when the parking lots are frozen, the runners must practice on plowed streets.

Mid-Distance runners are forced practice around the snow (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

Running outside is not only unpleasant but also dangerous. The wind has made temperatures drop from a high of 28°F to a low of -24°F. These conditions mean that runners could experience hypothermia or frostbite in less than 30 minutes.

Boys Relays practice hand-offs in the English wing (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

“There is a possibility of injury when running outside, especially in the winter,” said senior captain Alex Hughes.

Not all runners have been impacted by the cold, as sprinters practice inside no matter what the weather is.

Boys Sprints and Mid-Distance gather around the English wing and warm-up (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

“Running inside helps us because we do a lot more speed work,” said senior captain Zach Schultz. “It’s also a lot safer than being outside with all the ice and cars coming by.”

Boys Sprinters practice inside the halls of the English wing (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).

Adding to the difficulties, the track meet against rival Natick on Jan. 4 was postponed due to the arrival of the bomb cyclone and the Bay State Conference championships on Feb. 8 were postponed as a result of a snowstorm.

“Every indoor season can be a struggle with the weather and our lack of indoor facilities. This season has been especially challenging,” said head coach Corey Coogan. “We have had to keep athletes inside more often than usual which limits what we are able to do at practice.”

Boys Track and Field ended the season with a record of 1-3 with losses to Milton, Natick and Wellesley and a win over Milton

Senior Lochlan Clarke practices a relay with Senior captain Zach Schultz (Photo/ Jack O'Meara).
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John O'Meara
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