Weather is always a tricky factor to negotiate for any of the outdoor high school spring sports early in the season, and track and field is no exception.
Recent drenching rains are expected to clear out by the time the first gun goes off for the Big Mouth Signs/Shuma Sports Archer Invitational with the middle school and junior varsity events Friday at Archer Community Stadium.
However, with temperatures expected to plummet into the 30s in the late events Friday and Saturday for the varsity events, athletes from at least 31 teams from around Gwinnett County and the rest of Georgia, and perhaps more, will have to adjust accordingly.
“We have 31 teams as of right now,” Archer boys coach and meet director Ethan Kasson said Wednesday afternoon. “A couple of teams are a little hesitant with the weather, but it looks like we’ll have good weather. I think we dodged some rain, but (the temperatures) will be in the 40s. We’ve been training (for a few weeks) in that element, so it’s not that shocking.”
Actually, the biggest adjustments may not have to do less with the weather on meet day than that during preseason training over the past few weeks.
Conditions during a very soggy February has played havoc with the practice schedules for teams throughout the state, which Kasson believes makes the balancing act between giving the athletes an exciting first taste of competition, which has proved to be a major feature of the Archer meet since its inception, and the long-term big picture of the season.
“The first six weeks (of the season) is to try and get as most work in as possible,” Kasson said. “I think our kids will be ready, and I think all the teams will be, too. We’ve all been dealt the same hand.
“We (scheduled this competitive a meet this early in the season) on purpose by providing good competition at the beginning of the season and kind of throwing the teams into the fire. We’ve got some great teams participating. We’ve got Shiloh, the defending (Class AAAAAAA boys) state champs, Marietta, both the boys and girls, McEachern, North Springs, Wheeler and host of others. It’s a pretty good field, like it always is.”
As early in the season as it is, this weekend’s meet will also provide a bit of variety for spectators and competitors alike.
For example, Kasson said that Archer’s distance specialist Myles Collins will compete in the 800 and 1,600 meters instead of the 1,600 and 3,200 for training purposes.
It’s likely he won’t be along in mixing in a few different events from the ones he will most likely compete in during the heart of the season.
“We want (Collins) to get some speed work in, some we’re running him in the 800 and 1,600,” Kasson said. “I think everyone has similar plan in place with some of their athletes. This time of year … at the beginning of the season, you’re not going to see crazy fast times. I think a lot of kids from a lot of different schools may not be competing in (all the) events they’d run in championship-caliber meets (later in the season).”