Getting a good start

State 400 Meter Champion Michelle Kreutzberg works on her starts.

While the first practice for many Arizona high school track teams is tomorrow and the first meets will not take place until later this month or early March,  many of the top track athletes have been at it for many months now. I ran into four of them over the weekend at Chaparral High School.

For almost every Sunday morning since September, Ben Kmetz, Porter Marsh, Andrew Kaufman and Michelle Kreutzberg have trained with coach Brad Gettleman.  All four are seniors.  Ben does the triple jump and hurdles at North Canyon.  Porter and Andrew are distance runners at Chaparral.  And Michelle attends Desert Mountain, where she is the defending state champion in the 400 meter run in Division 5A II.

In addition to running, their Sunday training sessions include plyometrics, weight training, abdominal and core exercises (including a variety of ways of tossing the medicine ball around) and running with weighted jackets.

(R to L) Porter Marsh, Ben Kmetz and Andrew Kaufman work the rope ladder.

On Sunday, Michelle was working on her starts.  Ideally, a sprinter wants to drive straight ahead out of the starting blocks and not pick her head up to look forward during the first six to seven strides of the sprint.  “My starts have never been great,” said Michelle, who wondered on Sunday whether her second step at the start was too long, thus forcing her to stand straight up too soon after the start. Michelle’s starts couldn’t have been too bad, since she has not only won a state championship, but will be going to Tulane University next fall on a track scholarship.

Porter Marsh airborne.

While Michelle worked on her starts, Ben, Porter and Andrew did various agility drills, including using a rope ladder on the track small hurdles to do vertical leaps. One could hardly see their feet as their staccato steps zipped quickly through the rope ladder on the track.

After they finished their workout, I spent a few minutes with the four athletes. All said they loved competing and, like most high school athletes these days, did not fully appreciate when they started their track careers how much work would be required. From what I saw on Sunday, their effort has been worth it. — Dan Barr

From left: Michelle Kreutzberg, Andrew Kaufman, Porter Marsh and Ben Kmetz.

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