Kids, ranging from incoming fourth- to ninth-graders tested their skills and learned how to compete in different track and field events this past week at Seymour High School.
At Bulleit Stadium, 15 kids learned how to pole vault, high jump, long jump, run relays, throw discus and much more Monday through Thursday.
Owls girls varsity coach Bob Sexton and boys and girls varsity high jump and pole vaulting coach Aaron Floyd headed the camp, which is in its sixth year.
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“It’s fun and we get to learn more about everything we like to do,” incoming Seymour seventh-grader Cameron Cox said. “Long jump is my favorite because it’s one of my best things and I’m getting a lot better at it. I want to do long jump and sprints (next spring).”
Pole vaulting, which can be dangerous for younger kids if not properly supervised, was one of the favorite events for the kids on the day.
Instead of the usual pole vaulting setup you see at meets, Floyd put a rubber bungee across where the bar would be.
Floyd had the kids stand on a stool and assist them in getting up above the bar, teaching them to get their feet up and properly achieve height.
“I think, more so, it’s exposure,” Floyd said. “They kind of get aware of the events here. From there, we just do basic technique so they have an idea what should happen.
“On the high jump, we work on the ‘J’ approach and correct foot take off depending on what side they’re coming from. Same with pole vault, we have to be a little more careful with safety issues, but I thought it would be a great idea to have them do it. There are things we can do safely with a pole in their hand where we have them jump over a bungee.”
Before the jumping portion of the pole vault, the kids ran a relay hanging onto the poles to practice the approach.
“We broke up the run with the pole, and practiced that, and separated that where I swing them through can give them a chance to go over a (bungee) bar,” Floyd said. “It gives them a chance to say, ‘Hey, I got to try pole vault.’ I think pole vault is one of those things where they don’t come in expecting to do it their first time here. They do an abbreviated version, but we’re getting a pole in their hands and they’re clearing.”
For incoming freshman Brett Kleber, she said it was her third or fourth camp. Kleber said while she liked doing pole vaulting the best at camp, she wants to run distance events in track and cross-country this fall.
“You get to learn more about all the different events,” Kleber said. “I had never tried pole vault before. It gives me a better idea of I want to do it.”
For many of the kids, it gives them a chance to test their skills at the high school for the first time on a bigger stage and get used to the facilities.
“We try to give them a variety,” Sexton said. “It’s low-key and fun, we try to find out what’s most fun for them: whether it’s getting a little dirty in the sand pit, doing the high jump or relays.”
The Owls are the only program in Jackson County offering a track camp this summer.
“We thought, ‘Why not? All the other sports are doing it,’” Floyd said. “We have a select group of kids that come back year after year and enjoy doing it. If you look in the last 15 to 20 years, we’ve had a really successful program here. We’re getting those kids exposed and its been good.”
Coaches Sexton and Floyd both said that it’s nice to see the kids start getting interested in track before coming to the high school.
“What were finding, is that kids will come in as fifth-graders and they come back as sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to the camp,” Sexton said.
For Floyd, who has sent some campers to the state meet since the camp’s inception, he enjoys seeing the massive progression throughout the years.
“We have kids who are juniors and seniors now that I remember started doing the camps with us in middle school. It’s neat to see those kids not only continue on, but excel.”