BOZEMAN — Almost two weeks ago the Montana State track and field team would have been competing at the Big Sky Conference championships at Weber State University.
“Missing the track season was pretty gut-wrenching," said Lyle Weese, MSU's director of track and field and ross country. "We were really fortunate, though, that we had some student-athletes that were just able to roll with the punches and make the best out of it."
For Weese, he knows things could always be worse.
“At the same time, there are struggles people are going though all around the world," he said. "I think once you put into perspective, realize there’s some disappointment, but nothing that we can’t work through.”
Weese spends much of his time coaching the Bobcats' long distance runners. Luckily for him and the athletes, the COVID-19 shutdown had little impact on their training.
“Out of probably all the sports at MSU, it’s the easiest thing," Weese said. "What we’re doing is not much different other than we’re not doing competitions and we’re not meeting for practice. For distance, not too much is going to change. We’re still going to be outside, we’re not going to go into the weight room or be to worried about getting back in there.”
It has been harder for the parts of the track team that needs to regularly lift weights.
“It has been a challenge, especially for the throwers, the sprinters, the jumpers, not having access to the weight room for so long," said Weese. "That’s been an adjustment, but the strength coaches at MSU have just done an incredible job of sending them workout options for the equipment they have available."
The NCAA is allowing seniors who lost their seasons to come back for fifth or sixth years but also allotted the team extra roster space for incoming freshmen.
“Not all universities are doing that, so we’re very fortunate," Weese said. "It’s exciting to have them back. For so many of them, they’ve worked so hard and this is ... where they are getting to their peak in where they can really excel, and having that season canceled in what would be there final season was tough."
With the shutdown, we heard Montana State football coach Jeff Choate’s wife gave him what he considered a sub-par haircut, so how did Weese’s wife do?
“It went pretty well, it wasn’t like I had to get it fixed or anything," he said with a laugh.