Indoor season under way for Panthers


Sports editor

For the third meet of the season the Neosho County Community College Indoor Track team is competing in the Jayhawk Classic today at the University of Kansas’ new indoor track facility at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence.

At KU, the Panthers will face other community colleges, National Collegiate Athletic Association Div. 1 and Div. 2 schools, as well as some National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics colleges. In certain events, the Panthers will compete with the bigger schools.

“In the 60 (meter dash), some of the throws and mid-distance races, we’ll have some people that beat some of the four-year schools," Neosho Head Coach Clinton Fletcher said. "We’ll definitely measure up, we always do. Sometimes we have people that win meets in certain events.“

This is the second trip to Lawrence for the Panthers. Neosho opened the indoor season at the Bill Easton Classic in Lawrence Jan. 9. 

“The competition is way better,” Fletcher said. “The first weekend we went to Lawrence and the kids did okay coming off the break, cold weather.”

For the second meet, Neosho traveled to the Missouri Southern State University Open in Joplin. Even though track has an indoor season, Neosho does not have an indoor facility, like mostly every other community college. Practice and training takes place year round outdoors at the Chanute Community Sports Complex at Chanute High School.

With the unseasonably warm weather, the Panthers have been able to get in some additional training.    

We were able to train and put a lot of hard work in with great weather, so even now the (personal records) will come down in practice. Once we get to Lawrence, a lot of the kids are excited about the competition so I think a lot of PRs will drop. We’ll have some people qualify for nationals.”

In the indoor season athletes can qualify for nationals for the indoor and outdoor seasons.

“You can qualify at anytime, even for outdoor,” Fletcher said. “You can run a time indoor that’s fast enough for outdoor and qualify.”

Returning for Neosho is national qualifier and All-America in the throws Kyle Washington-Scott, John Gould and Darren Payton in mid-distance races and sprinter Rhoneshia Johnson. 

The indoor season is a good warmup for the outdoor season.

“It’s preparing for outdoor,” Fletcher said, “especially in this area here. It’s pretty cold. It’s hard to get that training in that you do down south. So for us it’s about preparing for outdoor the main part people think about track and field.”  Today’s meet begins at 9 a.m.

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