“Great Weather and Good Attitudes”

The Larson track team runs sprints during Tuesday afternoon practice.
(photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

It’s not easy finding the Larson Middle School track.

You can ask the kid on his bike riding away from the school. He’ll point behind him and keep riding. Or you can ask the band kids as they’re walking home and they’ll point to a seemingly seamless line of trees.

But walk toward those trees and you’ll see a pathway in the budding spring growth. Follow it, cross over a pretty brook and opening up before you — like an entirely new part of Troy that you never knew existed — you’ll see the track and about 160 7th and 8th grade boys and girls beginning their conditioning.

“We have some really good runners, the majority of them are very motivated and anxious to learn some new skills,” said Nancy Stone, track coach and 6th grade Geography teacher.

“We had 160 on our first day!” Stone said.

Larson track team members “skip for height” during Tuesday’s conditioning. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

Under a blue sky so bright it almost felt like someone was messing with the dials, middle schoolers back peddle, frog hop, skip for height and do alternate leg kicks — all part of their warmups.

“This is the biggest group we’ve had,”said 7th and 8th-grade Technology teacher and track coach Charlie Tull. “It’s exciting to have this many kids out here. We’ve had great weather and good attitudes. Ultimately, we have fun, we work hard and we enjoy being outside.”

“It is fun,” agreed 8th-grader Dean Kapala. “My friends are here and we have competitions.” he said.

“I like meeting new friends and just running,” said 7th-grader Addison Parsell.

Larson boys and girls do “alternate leg kicks” during conditioning. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

With sounds of construction in the distance and birds tweeting overhead — in 140 characters or less — the stretching segued into sprinting.

“Oh my gosh!” added 8th-grader Bennett Lewis, breathing heavily after a sprint. “My season-goal is a seven minute mile or less,” he concluded after taking a few more breaths.

“It’s good, but sometimes I get sore,” said 7th-grader Malina Dumitrascu.

“Being a team with everyone hanging out together is my favorite part of track,” said 8th-grader Audrey Apahidean.

During sprints, the boys and girls started on opposite sides of the track, but sometimes converged as they ran.

“Head up, arms pump, breathe from your stomach not your chest,” called out 6th-grade Language Arts, Reading, Phys. Ed and volleyball/track coach Carol Rexer, explaining the best way to power through a sprint.

“I think it’s fun. You get to push yourself to the limit. It can get a little tiring, but it’s a good exercise,” said 7th-grader Manaal Syed.

“Track is really exciting. It’s great to get in shape,” said 8th-grader Emma Ozias, standing on the infield with a sprained ankle. “My ankle’s pretty good though; I have a doctor’s appointment in eight days and I hope to get back out there,” she said.

As the students sprinted, then slowly walked it off, the gathered coaches agreed it was great exercising and hanging out in the sun. Their kids seemed to all agree.

“I actually move. Usually I just do gymnastics so I don’t run a lot. This is more fun because you get to move around more,” said 7th-grader Elissa Haddad.

Ryan Benesh stretches out Connor Moebus between sprints. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

“It’s a good workout, daily after school,” said 7th-grader Kelsey Weatherspoon. “We’re conditioning right now for the meets.”

“My favorite part about track is jumping over hurdles,” said 7th-grader Layan Ghali.

Then it was time for more sprinting.

“Breathe deep, pump with the arms, you got this!” called out coach Rexer.

They did; they all got this.