Apparently the first hurdle North Dakota track teams have to clear this spring is that of monotony.
"Right now we're just training and training and training. And, hopefully, we'll have an outdoor season," said Legacy boys head track coach Chris Clements as he addressed Old Man Winter's tenacity.
Most of Clements' athletes have had practically no opportunity to run outdoors, much less begin the defense of their 2017 state track and field championship. They're submitting to the drudgery of preparation minus the excitement of competition.
If and when the reward of competition is offered, the Sabers should be able to make their presence known.
Led by stalwarts like Austin Wolf, Matt Kraft and Beau Brannan, the Sabers return athletes who scored 63.5 of the team's title-winning 143 points last spring.
That core includes two individual champions, Wolf in the high jump and Kraft in the javelin. Returning from Legacy's two first-place relay teams are Patrick Doan (400 relay), Brannan (1,600 relay) and Calob Larson (1,600 relay).
Wolf and Brannan seemed to be all over the place at the state meet. Wolf placed fourth in the long jump and seventh in the triple jump as well as winning the high jump. Brannan ran second in the 800, third in the 400 and contributed legs on the 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay.
Legacy's other returning state meet placers are Larson, seventh in the 400; Jake Hurt, fourth in the shot put; Noah Todd, seventh in the pole vault.
"I think we're going to be OK in our jumps, and I think we'll be OK ... but our sprint corps is pretty decimated ... and we need somebody to step up in the hurdles," Clements said. "We're extremely young in the sprints and hurdles."
"We've got some very talented throwers and some very talented distance runners. Hopefully, we can find some things to go with them," Clements added.
While the Sabers have an impressive nucleus, Clements said that's not enough. He's looking for point production from experienced athletes who have improved and varsity newcomers.
"We're going to need kids to step up. We're not nearly as deep as we were. ... Our overall depth in the jumps needs to improve," he observed.
"We have some big shoes to fill ... so we'll see," he continued.
If nothing else, the Sabers have candidates for the task. Legacy has about 75 boys hoping to contribute, about the same number as last spring.
If Clements' observations are correct, the track and field talent will be overflowing in the Capital City this spring.
"Bismarck and Century are deep and have a lot of talented kids back," he said. "Are we going to be there? I don't know. That remains to be seen. We've got to have some kids step up and fill some holes. I'll be interested to see how the progression of the season turns out. But our season hasn't started yet."
Based on what he saw last spring, Clements expects Fargo South to be among the best in the East Region.
"They had a lot of decent underclassmen last year," he noted. "We'll have to see if there's anybody else when we get outdoors."
Once the high school track and field teams begin competing outdoors, the adjusting and improving can begin. But with each passing day the season becomes more condensed giving athletes fewer opportunities to drop seconds or add inches.
"Where (the shortened season) hurts you is in the areas where you don't have experience. ... You're trying to find things out and trying to get those kids to develop," Clements said. "