Cyclone track athletes get R.E.A.L.
New Pueblo West indoor track and field club working out the cobwebs as Cyclones strive to be elite
Championships are won in the offseason.
That goes without saying in most sports – top-notch high school athletic programs engage in summer competition as a group to be even more ready for the dawn of the high school season.
In track and field, though, a sport that by its very definition is a disjointed tapestry of different athletes competing in different events, offseason training isn’t as cut and dry.
Individual athletes are often responsible for their own training, their success more personalized and outside of the team concept.
The Pueblo West High School track and field program, under head coach Brandi Menegatti, is trying to do things a little differently.
“We run an offseason program anyway, giving kids who aren’t in a winter sport the opportunity to train for the Spring track season,” Menegatti said. “This year, we presented two different options.”
In years’ past, athletes that wished to train during the winter could enter indoor track meets unattached, training on their own and compete across the nation if they so choosed.
But this year, Menegatti and about 20 Pueblo West athletes have come together to forge a new club for the indoor track season, called R.E.A.L. Training South.
The program is an independent offshoot of the successful R.E.A.L. Training club out of Niwot High School, which competes in meets across the region and nationally.
The R.E.A.L. Training parent club is about 90 strong under the leadership of Niwot co-head coaches Kelly Christensen, a distance coach, and Maurice Henriques, a sprint coach.
R.E.A.L. Training South under Menegatti is a independent offshoot that is allowed to run in relays teams with the R.E.A.L. Training parent club.
Menegatti said the offseason club track concept is employed across the state by programs wishing to chase a team state championship.
“CHSAA (the Colorado High School Activities Association) doesn’t sponsor an indoor track season, so most top-notch runners run indoor,” Menegatti said. “We need to have 12 really good boys or girls to compete for a state championship, and we’re almost there. This program can help us get there.”
Last weekend, R.E.A.L. Training South competed at the USATF Colorado All-Comers Indoor Meet at Batch Field House in Boulder, its first meet as a club.
Among the individual results included a second-place showing by junior Frankie Nash, the reigning Pueblo 100-meter dash champion, turning in a mark of 7.12 seconds against high school aged competition. To put that in perspective, if Nash turned in that mark as a runner in the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, it would be a top 20 mark.
Menegatti said Nash might be the biggest individual beneficiary of the R.E.A.L Training South club.
“Just with our first meet, to get second in the 60 against all the big boys is really good,” Menegatti said. “He’s never started this early and he’s really committing to his sport. He knows this can be his year and he’s really going after it.”
Also turning in standout marks at the meet were MaLeigha Menegatti, who won the 800-meter run by nearly 10 full seconds, and senior Hannah Meek, who ran the 60-meter in 8.21 seconds, tying the top mark of R.E.A.L. Traning parent club’s Jamie Hegg.
Menegatti said that the club isn’t about winning races, it’s about pure training.
“They’re not trying to be the best they can be,” Menegatti said. “It’s just training. We have what’s called ‘quality day’ workouts and racing can be considered a ‘quality day’ workout for our program. It’s just about getting out there.”
High School track and field practices don’t actually begin until Feb. 27, so this portion is about training, no matter how the athlete chooses to do it, Menegatti said.
“Some kids chose to do the club while others are entering unattached,” Menegatti said. “It doesn’t matter to me, just as long as you’re training.”
During the R.E.A.L. Training South indoor training season, it will compete in an indoor meet at Air Force before setting its sights on the Simplot Games, which take place Feb. 16-18 at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.
Menegatti said the indoor track season will help athletes be ready to go as soon as Feb. 27 arrives.
“It’s about getting out there and getting your body moving,” Menegatti said. “You get to Feb. 27, and you only have two weeks until you have to race, but this training gets athletes more ready than most of their competition.”