[Much of what is said in the Introduction below is copied from an earlier year's introduction to the sport for newcomers and parents and there is little reason to "recreate the wheel!"]
Back in the Dark Ages, in the 1960's and 1970's, when Winter or Indoor Track was first envisioned by coaches here in South Jersey, the programs were designed largely for really tough athletes who wanted to excel in the Spring!! Many of the local meets were so-called "Polar Bear Meets," held outdoors when coaches thought having young people running around wearing shorts and singlets in freezing temperatures was good for their physical and personal development! In addition, other meets were held indoors although these facilities were badly designed for racing! They fashioned flat "tracks" of irregular lengths or set-up shaky banked wooden tracks in gymnasiums or "armories" generally untouched since World War II! At several places back in the 70's and 80's, the sprint track ended through garage doors into a parking lot! Yes, sprinters did 40 or 50 yard dashes and finished out in the parking lot where, on snowy or icy days, coaches caught them before they fell! At one major city Armory, before it was renovated, homeless people lived in the stairways and often urinated "close to home." And everyone who ever participated in Indoor Track back in the 70's and 80's will remember the pungent odor of "Atomic Balm" until the day they die! Today, the indoor facilities are much improved: the Toms River "Bubble" is tight but fairly comfortable, the renovated New York City Armory is used by both college and professional teams; and the Ocean Breeze facility on Staten Island is absolutely magnificent! If only someone could work on those long bus rides! (For more details, ask Coach Shaklee and former Marlton Rec Coach Shea what it was like "to be manly-men when they were just boys!")
Those early programs were designed as preparation for the Spring Season (and as a way to sidestep NJSIAA rules about coaching athletes out of season). Coaches concentrated on foundation and strength training for distance athletes, and skills training and conditioning for the sprinters, jumpers and throwers. That concentration continues today, although the team participates in a number of meets at decent indoor facilities (including the Throws Meets at Cherokee High School) for both experience and a change of pace.
Last winter, the season began with cold temperatures and gusting winds, with some snow thrown in before Winter Break, and that seems to be the pattern this year as the average temperature in South Jersey in early December has been about 10 degrees below normal! But Cherokee's athletes are unfazed -- remember their physical and personal development? -- they'll ignore the elements and train outdoors looking forward to indoor opportunities to show their improvement! GO CHIEFS!
On December 16th, 2022, South Jersey's "lid-lifter" of the season, the Olympic Conference Meet #1 was contested at "The Bubble" in Toms River. The meet was designed for the "experienced but rusty" or the "brand new" and most teams brought only a few athletes to compete/practice. Still, it was an excellent opportunity for both the experienced and new to get their track spikes "hot!"
Head Coach Hoffman and Assistant Coach Viscidy took a small group to this meet: eight of the younger Distance group to race the 4 X 800m Relay; several other teams of Sprinters for the Sprint Medley and the 4 X 200m Relay, and individuals for the 1600m, High Hurdles, High Jump, Pole Vault and the Shot. Coach Shaklee is a volunteer during the Indoor Season and was unavailable for the meet.
Specific details from the meet, including results, pictures and videos are available at: NJ.MileSplit.
Our photographer was unavailable for the meet but Mae Kellert from MileSplit was! She's a good friend of Cherokee and she took pics of as many Chiefs as she could! She hates shooting in "the dark hole of Toms River" because it is set up to thwart as many decent pictures as it can. Still, she shot and posted what she could. The pictures below, as well as other pictures from the meet, are available on the District's Google site.
On December 19th, 2022, a number of Cherokee's Indoor Track Team returned to "The Bubble" in Toms River for the South Jersey Track and Field Coaches Association, Meet # 1 to get some much-needed experience on a narrow indoor track. This time, the coaches took another contingent of Distance runners, as well as Sprinters, Hurdlers, High Jumpers, Pole Vaulters and Shot Putters.
Again, specific details from the meet, including events, names, performances, videos and pictures are available at: NJ.MileSplit.
Our photographer was unavailable for this meet, too, but Tom Smith from MileSplit was! He's a good friend of Cherokee and he took many pics of Chiefs on the track! He, too, hates shooting in "The Bubble" but he shot, and loaded as many as he could! Some are posted below while they and others are available on the District's Google site.
On January 2nd, 2023, a dozen or so members of Cherokee's Indoor Track Team returned to "The Bubble" for a relay meet, the South Jersey Track and Field Coaches Association, Meet # 4 The team was looking forward to making a strong sgowing at the upcoming New Jersey GP 4 Relays but, with a variety of injuries and illnesses, that seems less and less likely. Still, the guys raced, jumped and threw to prepare for more-important meets like the Winter and Spring Chaqmpionships! GO CHEROKEE!
Specific details from the meet are available at: NJ.MileSplit.com.
Our photographer was at the meet and did his best to capture all of Cherokee's activities in that "dark hole." He apologizes to our Putters, Misters Ott, Wolfert and Mister Sloan; and to Jumper, Mister Cooper for missing them! A number of his pictures are posted below while quite a few others are available on the District's Google site.
Yikes! ; < )
On January 4th, 2023, another group of Cherokee's Indoor Track Team traveled to the Toms River "Bubble" for another crack at (essentially) practice relay events to prepare for the up-coming State Relays Championships.
This time, however, our photographer was unavailable and, except for the shallow reporting provided by the Toms River staff, few details are available. For example, they report Cherokee ran a 4 x 800 or a 4 X 200 but they don't identify the section or the individuals. Not sure what Cherokee's official coaches are doing on that long bus-ride home but they're not passing along any team results. The outside world must need "super secret" clearance! : < )
If, however, you have the patience and a stop watch, NJ.MileSplit had a videographer at the meet who taped the races and you might be able to see who competed and how fast thay ran! For example, if you watch the 4th of 6 sections/heats of the Boys 4 X 200, you'll get some idea of how they ran!
Toms River results and MileSplit's videos at: NJ.MileSplit
On January 9th, 2023, Cherokee hosted the first of several Winter Throws Meets, the Cherokee Throw Down # 1 in a cafeteria and a gymnasium! With three Olympic-style circles, the event went quickly enough for the participants to each get four throws in competition and, then, to get home in time to watch the worst college national championship on record!
Several of Cherokee's Varsity came within an inch of their Previous Record (PR) and, of course, several new guys set their first PR's to aim at in the future! All of these details are available at NJ.MileSplit.
Our photographer worked the meet trying to shoot everyone on the three circles, in two different rooms, and his results won't end up in the Philadelphia Museum. A key problem is in the darkened cafeteria: all those romantic teenagers want an environment conducive to quiet chats and thoughts of a great Prom weekend! Still, our photographer thinks he caught all of Cherokee's Throwers in action! Here are some of those pictures and they and others are available on the District's Google site.
On January 14th, 2023, several teams of runners, jumpers and throwers returned to Toms River's Bubble for the NJSIAA Relays Championships, Group 4 but none returned with medals! Extensive coverage is available at: NJ.MileSplit.
Our photographer was available and shot our two putters, Zach Ott and Brody Wolfort; and the 4 X 800m Relay team of Andrew Free, Liam Tindall, Ben Weiner and Matteo Evola. Several are posted below and they and others are available on the District's Google site.
On January 16th, 2023, part of the team traveled to the fantastic Ocean Breeze Track and Field Center on Staten Island, NY for an unusual meet sponsored by the SJTCA at that location, their Winter Meet # 6!
Winter Volunteer Coach Shaklee sent the following message describing his distance team's performance:
"A small segment of the distance team traveled to Ocean Breeze on Staten Island for the SJTCA Meet #6. For those who went, the trip was (mostly) worth it.
"The meet started with the 3200 Meter Run. Anthony DiBatista and Ben Weiner were the Cherokee entries. Anthony finished 9th and Ben, 11th in a field of 16 runners. Both set new PR's but can clearly run much faster with a bit more race experience.
"Andrew Free, Liam Tindall Patrick Ditmars were entered in the 1600 Meter Run.
"Running in heat 4 of 5, Andrew raced well, setting a new indoor PR and coming within a couple of seconds of his outdoor best from last spring! More impressively, Andrew ran smart and aggressively throughout, which bodes well for the remainder of the winter and spring track seasons! He finished 12th in the field of 69 runners!
"Patrick and Liam were in the final heat. While Liam didn't have his best race he still kept it together to run decently, finishing in 17th place overall. It's early and Liam is sure to run much faster later in the year. For perspective, his time was almost 10 seconds faster than his best 1600 from last winter!
"Patrick was racing for the first time after a pretty difficult stretch since the end of cross country where he missed some training time due to illness. With only one track workout under his belt, Patrick is far from peak race form but he still managed to place 2nd with a time 5 seconds faster than his first race last winter, which was run almost a full month later in the training cycle.
"Patrick doubled back in the 800m Run, about 40 mins later, finishing 3rd with a time almost a second faster than his opener last winter, which was run more than a month later in the training cycle! While Patrick is never happy with anything short of a win, these opening performances, with minimal preparation, bode well not only for later in the winter but are also a good sign of great things to come this spring!
"Nimai Kumar, training with the long-sprinter group, ran a little too conservatively in the 800m Run and was unable to improve on his time from the early December LRHSD Invitational. He has more in him and just needs to race with more confidence.
"After two sub-par races at the State Relays on Saturday, Matteo Evola, was ready to show that he could do much more . . . and he did! Matteo finished 3rd in his heat (20th out of 59 overall) with a 4 second PR! Not only that, but he "negative split" the race indicating that he can run even faster!
"Overall, a pretty good day for the Cherokee distance runners!"
No details from the other coaches but additional details on all our athletes at: NY.MileSplit.
Our photographer was available at the meet and shot most of the action from the finish line. Like most of his indoor pictures, they are sub-par. Still, he edited as best he could and posted some here. They and others are on the District's Google site.