New athletic offering allows Track & Field athletes to compete in winter months.
This winter will usher in a new era for WRA Track & Field.
For the first time ever, WRA will participate in an indoor Track & Field season complete with competitions, training sessions and relay teams.
The move was spurred by newly appointed Head Coach Erik Chaput, who joins WRA after eight years of running the Lawrenceville School Track and Field program. During his stretch at Lawrenceville, he was a two-time winner of the Mercer County Coach of the Year.
Chaput and Assistant Coach Raheem Jackson lead the charge on building out the indoor Track & Field program, which will partner with SPIRE and Youngstown State for facility access during the cold months.
"Indoor track can be a lot of fun," said Chaput. "There's an awesome atmosphere in these facilities, and it's a memorable experience. For student-athletes who work hard in the winter and can qualify, indoor nationals is an incredible event."
The New Balance Indoor Nationals, which take place in New York City, are scheduled for early March. Chaput and Jackson have their aspirations set on preparing athletes to qualify for both Indoor Nationals and the Penn Relays, the oldest and biggest track and field competition in the U.S.
"For me, watching kids develop is the best part," Jackson added. "I miss practicing myself and often wish I could have just one more practice, just one more event. Instilling work ethic and seeing athletes progress is everything."
For practices, the team will have allotted fieldhouse time in the Murdough Athletic Center, in addition to training sessions at SPIRE Institute in Geneva and the Youngstown State indoor track complex.
"There are some really talented jumpers here at WRA," said Chaput. "SPIRE has an indoor pit, and these kids will have a huge advantage in spring from the work put in during the winter season."
WRA has held winter conditioning programs in the past, but this winter will mark the first time that Track & Field has its own indoor season. So far, at least five meets are on the books, which will be held invitational-style on Saturdays.