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Running on Empty
Indoor track athletes from across the state prepare for the Simplot Games while competing in other winter sports
Published: 1/10/2020 2:44:11 PM
 

At Soda Springs High School, freshman wrestler Brigham Renfroe wakes up at 4:45 a.m. on school days to put in a distance-running workout as he prepares for the Simplot Games. 

Brigham said the early-morning runs are tough since he is still “physically and mentally drained from wrestling practice” just a handful of hours before. 

Renfroe is one of countless dual-sport athletes across the state who utilizes indoor track competitions to stay in prime condition for other winter sports, a task that can leave him and many others exhausted yet still eager to run.

For athletes looking to stay in shape and take up the challenge of doubling their workload during frigid Idaho winters, the options are far from limited.

The Idaho State University Snake River Open kicks off the indoor track season in 2020 Jan. 10 and 11. In mid-January, the BYU High School Indoor Invitational held at the BYU-Smith Fieldhouse will begin, followed by the ISU Mountain State Games in Pocatello and the Nike Boise Indoor in early February. Held at the Idaho Center in Nampa, meets are open to high school and club athletes.

But not to be outdone, the Simplot Games continue to serve as the pinnacle of indoor track competitions in the Gem State. 

This year’s 42nd annual Simplot Games is set for Feb. 13-15 at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello. Approximately 2,000 athletes from all over the U.S. as well as Canada, New Zealand and Australia will compete on the Bengals’ home track.

Idaho will be well represented as many high school athletes from throughout the state have taken on the challenge of training for the Simplot Games, some even doing so while practicing and competing for their schools’ basketball and wrestling teams.

Idaho student-athletes have seen their fair share of success at Simplot. In 2019, Idaho boys and girls garnered a total of nine top-three finishes against many of the best track and field athletes in the nation.

One reason for such success is the individual sacrifices made by both the athletes and the schools’ coaches. Sugar-Salem’s Brett Hill knows all too well of that sacrifice.

Hill, coach of the highly successful Sugar-Salem track and cross country programs, said in his small community, training during the winter is difficult “because of the limited or no access to indoor track facilities.” 

Although the school has no formal winter track program, the Diggers offer a weights/CrossFit program that many participate in after school. For the athletes he works with, Hill said attending indoor track meets “is not a real competitive thing.  Our kids do it just for fun and it gives them a reason to keep training and stay fit.”

Pocatello High School’s Rick Call, the Idaho State Journal’s 2019 All-Area track and field coach of the year, has a bit of an advantage in this year’s Simplot Games due to his school’s close proximity to Holt Arena. Pocatello athletes training for the games can attend indoor track practice in the warm confines of the dome.

Freshman Aleece Kirkham is one Pocatello athlete taking advantage of the Dome workouts. In preparing for the Simplot Games, Aleece said she trains “every day after school and once a week in the Holt Arena.”

More information on this year’s Simplot Games can be found on the event’s official website.

 


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