Kent State track and field transitioning to outdoor season despite frigid temperatures

Kent State’s TJ Lawson jumps during the 60-meter hurdles, which he finished with a time of 8.36 seconds. Lawson placed fifth in the heptathlon at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas. 

Laurene Darby

The Kent State track and field teams are in the midst of the transition from indoor season to outdoor despite less than cooperative weather conditions in Northeast Ohio.

“The distance races, 800 and up, are competing outside, and all the throws are outside. but at a high of 33 (degrees), it gets dangerous,” said associate head coach of throws Nathan Fanger. “No one can prepare for 33-degree weather. You just endure.”

The Flashes are scheduled to compete at the University of Akron this weekend at their second outdoor meet of the season. Due to expected weather conditions, many events like the pole vault and high jump have been moved indoors for competition and will count toward the outdoor meet.

“I think everyone will do well this weekend,” redshirt sophomore TJ Lawson said. “Everyone has been looking good. Our vaulters have been looking good. A couple of our jumpers are going to open up. It just depends on the weather. It’s going to be in the 30s and is supposed to snow, so a lot of the stuff we are going to do is going to be moved indoors, which sucks.”

Fanger said the weather will play a big part of competition this season for the Flashes.

“This year is by far the worst in terms of practice,” Fanger said. “Usually, we get snow or rain, but not constant 30-degree days. It has been impossible to get a good practice rhythm.”

Despite the terrible weather conditions, Lawson is excited for the outdoor season as he explained that Kent State’s track and field teams are better outdoors.

“If we pick up a throwing event or two that we’re good at, a lot of the kids are just better at the longer distances,” Lawson said. “We have a good (4×100 meter relay) team. Stuff that we didn’t have indoors, we have outdoors, so it helps a lot. Staying healthy to compete is the biggest part.”

However, Fanger believes the weather can have a great influence on the athletes’ performances now and for future competitions.

“No one gets sick, but no one gets loose,” Fanger said. “You need warmth for the body to loosen up and run well or throw and jump well. The cold keeps your muscles stiff. We need warmth to fully utilize our abilities.”

The Flashes begin competition at the Northeast Ohio Quad against Ashland, Akron and Youngstown State at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Akron’s Lee R. Jackson Track and Field Complex.

Laurene Darby is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].