The 400 meter oval at Reed Stadium still lies a couple of feet beneath the snow from the massive storm two weeks ago, but the track team led by head coach Jeff Larson and his crew of assistants has not missed a beat as they train for the competitive season.

“Of course we would much rather be out on the field,” said Larson, “but part of preparing athletes is teaching them to overcome adversity. The biggest challenge is taking a sport intended for outdoors and making it an indoor sport. Add to that limited gym space, large numbers of kids in a relatively confined area, organizing practice so that it will naturally flow, having everything we need that we’d normally just have to walk to the track shed to get, and making practice meaningful to accomplishing the goals of the season.”

So while the distance runners try to navigate icy roads and trails outside, the sprinters, jumpers and throwers have been relegated to the indoors for practice. The first meet of the season, originally set for Wednesday, March 13 at Bend High School has been scrubbed, but the team hopes to go to the Crook County Relays March 20 instead. Larson is looking to find a meet on the other side of the mountains as a “Plan B.”

The snow in Sisters will eventually melt and the team will host meets on April 10 and April 27, in addition to the Oregon West District Championships on May 9 and 11.

“District was originally scheduled for Woodburn High School, but their track renovation could not be guaranteed, so we inherited it,” said Larson. Sisters hosted the district meet for the Sky-Em meet last year as well.

“It’s unusual to play host for District two years in a row, but we are embracing it because we have quality volunteers, a fantastic facility, and we get to compete in front of our hometown fans,” said Larson.

With more than 50 boys and girls on the roster, Larson believes his team will be able to cover the seventeen track and field events quite well. It’s too early to tell how the newcomers to the team will contribute, but returning veterans give the Outlaws a strong foundation on which to build.

Two juniors are among the anchors for the girls’ team. Sprinter/jumper Ryliereece Morgan has state meet experience, and medals, from the past two seasons in her specialties, which include the high jump, long jump, triple jump and short sprints. Morgan placed third at state last year in the high jump, sixth in the triple jump, and seventh in the long jump. She is the only returnee from the 4 x 100 relay team that placed fourth at state last year.

Kate Bowen brought home two medals from state last year as well. She placed third in the 3,000 meters where she holds the school record, and fifth in the 1500. She placed seventh at the state cross-country meet in November, so is well known among the top 4A runners in Oregon.

Seniors Ella Cole (200, 400, 800 and 1600 relay) and Amy Hills (300 hurdles, 800 pole vault and 1,600 relay) are very competitive as well. Cole qualified for state in the 400 last year where she placed ninth and Hills is “always in the mix” according to Larson. Samantha Silva, a junior, finished ninth in the long jump at state last year and also excels in the triple jump and has taken part on the short relay.

Sophomore Shelby Larson has been working on her pole-vaulting skills throughout the school year and hopes to see that hard work translate into higher heights. She cleared 9 feet last year and qualified for state where she no-heighted. She has competed in two indoor meets in 2019 and is anxious to get outdoors, according to her father, and coach, Jeff.

Sisters dominated the Sky-Em District meet last year, but the Oregon West League includes a much deeper talent pool historically, including Philomath, which placed third as a team at state last year, and Cascade which placed ninth. Sisters placed eighth.

For the boys teams, Newport and Stayton took the top two spots in the Oregon West last year, with the Cubs winning the team title by over 100 points, but Sisters will bring plenty of competition to the league, especially in the sprints, distances and vertical jumps.

Two sophomores and a senior form the nucleus of an outstanding sprint corps that have the potential to re-write the record books in the 400 and the 1600 meter relay. Senior Korbin Sharp and sophomores Hayden Sharp and Brody Anderson return from a team, including then-senior Jordan Pollard, that clocked 3:26.98 at state last year where they placed third.

“These boys give us a lot to be excited about,” said Larson.

Sophomores dominate the distance crew as well, with John Peckham leading the way in the 1,500 and 3,000 after a stellar cross country season where he ranked among the top 10 4A boys. Sam May expects continued improvement in the 800, and Will Thorsett and Josh Liddell will add depth as well. Senior Keaton Green, a three-year veteran who broke 2:00 in the 800 meters last year and ran at state, is not taking part in track this season.

“The distance kids can compete with anyone, so I feel really good about all the running events,” said Larson.

Skyler Larson, a senior, is set to contribute in his specialties, which include the pole vault, high jump, and 300 intermediate hurdles — all events in which he placed near the top at Districts in 2018. Larson cleared 11-feet-1-inch in the pole vault during the indoor season and has high hope for the outdoor season. His vaulting mate Garrett Kersavage, a junior, has a best of 12-feet-4-inches in the vault, giving the Outlaws a great one-two punch, especially since both are nearly certain to improve during the season. Kersavage placed eighth in the event at State last year. He is also among the top returning 4A triple jumpers with a best of 40 feet 3.5 inches.

Larson is assisted by Josh Nordell, Sarah Thorsett, Dennis Dempsey, Jim Anderson, Eden Miller and Mark Stewart.

As far as goals for the season Larson states that his are “to have fun, become better athletes, be a force at the district level, and take a bus load to the state meet.”