On the fields and the roads around Craig, as well as in the high school gym, activity picked up this week as high school athletes began final preparations for their upcoming seasons.
Moffat County High School fall sports kicked off Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned practices for the 2013 season Monday, bringing the squads one step closer to competition. Summer strength and conditioning drills came before practice, but now is the time when teams begin to take shape, and athletes sharpen in their specific sports.
For the boys soccer team, that means equal parts getting in shape, regaining touch with the soccer ball and finding a spot in head coach Rusty Cox’s scheme.
“I’ve got a lot of new guys, so I’m trying to find where everybody fits exactly,” Cox said. “This year, I’ve changed my systems a little bit, based on players we won’t have from last year. We’re trying to play to the strengths of the players we do have now.”
The Bulldogs spend lengthy morning practices going through sprinting and endurance conditioning runs, as well as playing full-team scrimmages to get used to their offensive and defensive positions. They’ll go back and forth between the two to really test the players’ mettle early.
“This year, we’re probably going to push harder (than in the past),” Cox said. “I’m thinking of having fitness tests, more like high goals for these guys because I want them to be ready.”
Inside the gym at the high school, the volleyball team is working through two-a-day practices for the first week, focusing on nailing down the basics through as much time and repetition as possible.
“It’s all fundamentals, getting the ball, getting behind the ball, footwork,” said head coach Starla Jensen of the team’s focus this week. “We need a strong fundamental base to be able to improve on what they already have.”
Conditioning can’t be overlooked for volleyball, either, but players say it can be gained through methods aside from simply running.
“We’ve been getting conditioning from our drills,” said incoming senior Shaylyn Buckley. “From working through the drills, we’re gaining more than just the passing.”
For the boys and girls cross country teams, running is the only real concern, although the type of training the team does will evolve as the season wears on. For now, they are focused on building a foundation for good endurance.
“The first two to three weeks we’re just trying to get going,” said head coach Todd Trapp. “Some kids have been running over the summer, and (for) some, it’s the first time they’ve ever ran, so we build a foundation and that can mean 15 minutes (of running) for some and 35 to 40 minutes for others.”
For all fall sports teams, excluding boys golf, the first competition is still a couple of weeks away, but getting together as a team for the first time in the fall is still an exciting time.
“It’s very exciting,” Cox said. “I’m looking forward to it this year, definitely. I’m looking forward to it every year, but I’m very proud of what I’m seeing so far.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org