For The Tribune

Seymour head baseball coach Jeremy Richey put some new events in the Victory Field Challenge this year.

Last Monday, the players lifted weights in the weight room in Bulleit Stadium. Lifts included bench and squats, and they did pullups and towel holds.

On Tuesday, they went through a CrossFit program at the facility on East Second Street.

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On Wednesday, after shooting baskets in the auxiliary gym, they participated in pitching rubber push, where they pushed a 2-by-4, three feet in length, the length of the soccer field, did team triangles and played dodgeball.

On Thursday, they swam in the pool at the high school, and Friday, they did an obstacle course and had a tug-of-war in addition to doing tire flips with three-man teams.

They also had bizz/buzz quizzes Monday through Thursday.

“All the activities bring the team, as a whole, together,” Owls senior Seth Maki said Friday before the players did some throwing on the soccer field. “We’re kind of like a family. The more we’re together, the more we bond and connect with each other, and that plays a big part in games and practices, as well.

“The challenging aspect of this week has just been phenomenal. Everybody has been working their butts off. It doesn’t matter how challenging it is. They just go at it without any intentions and get the best benefits out of it.”

After the players loosened up their arms, they participated in the big tire flips in which three members of a team flipped a large tractor tire over and over the full length of the soccer field. That was one of the new events this year.

There were eight teams, selected by the coaches. Some of the teams consisted of four members, and some of them were made up of five.

“It was rough, especially for the groups that were missing a guy and somebody on their team had to go twice,” Maki said. “They get mad about that, but at the end of the day, it just brought us closer. It was a big deal for them in the team aspect for points and whatnot, but at the end of the day, it makes everybody better.

“I’ve enjoyed everything. Every year we do this, it keeps getting better and better. I feel even the hard events each year, they get more excited this time of the year. They don’t sit there and sigh about the hard things. They actually go out and do them.

“It gets easier as you go through high school. If you have weight class, you have players that play other sports that condition, and you have weights class that gets you bigger, faster and stronger, and those guys do a good job over there, and the coaches do a phenomenal job with the other players.”

Alex Holt is another senior who comped in his fourth straight challenge.

“It’s just a unique way to get everybody together, while from football and basketball to have everybody split up into different teams and compete against each other to win the whole challenge,” Holt said. “It can get feisty at times because kids get after each other and get aggravated, but we’re all competitive kids, and we all want to win.

“That will definitely help come game one against Trinity. We’re all going to want to compete and going to want to win, so that’s going to help us throughout the season.”

Holt said he has lifted weights throughout high school and several of the events he competed in during the week were easier for him than in past challenges.

“Our team, in particular, dominated Monday because we’re seniors, and we’ve been in the weight room four years, and we know what that’s about. We were able to compete in the weightlifting aspect of it, so that’s definitely been our strong point,” he said. “I would say my favorite event was CrossFit. We had a lot of kids who left their comfort zone. Not a lot of people get out and weightlift and do what we did in CrossFit, so to get out and compete in that and have various competitions and stuff you have to do, it’s very interesting.”

Richey said the purpose of the challenge is for bringing the team closer together.

“(We) put them through some tough situations and have them work together to get out of it,” he said. “We spent a lot of this winter talking about positive leadership, so we did some activities like the weakest link thing and bringing those guys up and doing it in a positive way.

“So it was making things really tough for them and making them find a way to get out of tough situations and deal with tough situations as a group.”

Richey said this is the seventh year he has had the challenge, and while there were some new events this year like the tire flip, the coaches changed the way they conducted some of the other contests.

“Even the CrossFit workout this year was different,” Richey said. “They did three different exercises than last year.”

They also did different things in the obstacle course and swimming.

Coach D.J. Henkle’s team placed first in the team placings. Members of that team were Matthew Moore, Braden Handloser, Kaiden Jones, Colin Senn and Brandon Terrell.

Seymour’s scrimmage against Henryville, scheduled for March 22, has been canceled. The Owls will open their season March 27 against Trinity Lutheran at home.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.