WEST YELLOWSTONE — After a canceled 2020 season due to COVID-19 and the 2021 snow finally melting in West Yellowstone, at least on the track, the Wolverines are ready to get back and hit the ground running for their track and field season.
“It sucked," Wolverines junior Jonathan Resendiz said of the loss of the 2020 season. "Just to get it taken away, it hurt a lot.”
The Wolverines have a small squad this year and last year they would have returned 11 seniors and seven state qualifiers. Now for head coach Toni Brey, it’s basically starting fresh.
"We’ve lost all of this experience," she said. "Kids are not necessarily excited or ready for this season because we didn’t have it last year. It’s difficult now, because not only do you have freshmen that have never competed in a varsity meet, but now you have sophomores who haven’t either."
West Yellowstone began track practices in early March, but the start of the season for the Wolverines is a lot of indoor work. They have a plow to get snow off the track, but that takes a couple of days and then some of the coaches have to do some more maintenance.
“It’s a logistical nightmare when we roll in to track and field," said Brey. "Obviously, it’s difficult (for the plows). They don’t know where the track is. They kind of guess the best that they can and there just ends up being a lot of little work here and there that we try to do. My husband always come out with our snowblower, we only live a few blocks from here, so we’re walking our snowblower over here to push back the edge to clear out the long jump pit. Our shot and discus coach comes over with his Bobcat and cleans out the shot and discus area so that can dry out. As you can see, we run with feet of snow on the ground for the first couple of months.”
Braving the difficult elements in the early portion of training only makes the athletes that much better when it comes time for competition.
“We’re out here, it’s cold, there’s snow," Brey said. "We go to Bozeman and it’s a little chilly and other schools are used to competing in that weather and that’s the norm for us. If anything, I think that gives us an advantage.”
West Yellowstone returns junior Emmie Collins, who as a freshman qualified for state in four different events. Now she has embraced a leadership role on the young team.
“It’s another responsibility of mine," said Collins. "Being an upperclassman, basketball helped a lot with leadership and trying to figure out to do it, basically. It’s exciting and I honestly cherish it a lot. I love being a leader.”
Besides being a leader, Collins is hoping to break some school records, some of which are owned by her sister Jewlz Collins.
“My sister actually holds like three or four of the school records," Emmie Collins said. "My ultimate goal for track is to get a couple of those, at least in the 200, 100, maybe her hurdles, we’ll see.”
"We’re not going to back down. We’re small but we’ve been here before, so we can do it," she said.