Metelko puts together first-ever Viterbo track and field team

By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

This spring, Viterbo University will field its first-ever track and field team. John Metelko, also the men’s and women’s cross country coach, was faced with the challenge of fill­ing out the initial roster.

Metelko filled the roster with plenty of freshmen recruits, but also pulled several individuals from the student body that hadn’t previously been competing in collegiate athlet­ics. Metelko’s past role in Residence Life helped out, as he was familiar with many students’ previous ath­letic experience. He even recruited athletes straight from the Mathy Center’s track, as he did with sprint­er Kylie Janovick.

There are several incoming fresh­men from areas outside the mid­west, including recruits from Texas, Georgia, and Idaho. According to Metelko, bringing in these recruits is easier than ever thanks to email and the Internet.

“When these students want to get away to somewhere new for col­lege, it’s easier than it’s ever been for them to do that,” Metelko said.

While there will be between 45 and 50 track athletes on the men’s and women’s rosters this year, it’s unlikely that Viterbo will be filling out a full team at their meets. Me­telko commented that this is typical for a small-college track team, and some schools go as far as to special­ize in one or two areas. He doesn’t plan for Viterbo track to go the way of specialization, however.

The men’s team this spring will be well-stocked in sprinting and dis­tance events, but is short on throw­ers. The women’s team, on the other hand, has throwers but will be short in other areas.

Creating practice space for the athletes has been a challenge for Metelko. Much of the practice time to this point has been general fit­ness training and has taken place on campus. With the team needing to spend additional time on more spe­cialized training, however, Metelko rented UW-La Crosse’s Mitchell Hall for some on-track experience and has arrangements to practice at La Crosse Central High School and UW-La Crosse’s outdoor track complex when the snow melts. He hopes that this practice schedule will help the team peak at the end of the outdoor season towards the end of the spring.

One of the biggest challenges that faces the team is finding coaches for nearly 50 track athletes com­peting in various events. Metelko is assisted by Shayne Cooper, who specializes in sprints and hurdles; Sarah Schnick, a Viterbo grad who will primarily coach jumpers; and Luke Crowley, who specializes in coaching throwing events. Metelko also has two volunteer assistants on staff: Nathan Spangler, a former Vit­erbo cross country runner, and Tori Tyler, a current student who used to compete in distance events for the University of Washington.

While this is the first year of com­petition for Viterbo track, they will not enter the season without goals.

“We’d like to show significant im­provement for the conference meet this spring, hopefully scoring in ten events on both the men’s and wom­en’s sides,” Metelko said. “What we really want is to be represented by athletes from both sides at the NAIA indoor national championships as well.”

Viterbo track began its competi­tive indoor season on Jan. 21 at the UW-Stout Open in Menomonie, WI. Results were not available at press time.

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