Two WHS students are preparing for the high school track season with the NEK Track Club.
Senior Bailey Coon and junior Bryce Tharman participate in the Northeast Kansas (NEK) Track Club program. The NEK club was created to teach youth the necessary skills and develop them over time with an indoor and outdoor competition season.
Coon has been with the club for four years competing in the indoor and outdoor season. For the indoor season, she participates in shot put and weight, and shot put, hammer and discus for the outdoor season.
“I decided to do it because I did track in junior high and liked it,” Coon said, “Then in high school my dad wanted me to play softball, but I still wanted to to do track. So then junior high long distance) coach Greg Baron talked to me and introduced me to NEK.”
Coon also had the opportunity to compete in both the USATF and AAU Junior Olympics last summer. Coon participated in hammer and shot put at both of these competitions. For the USATF Jr. Olympics, competition started in Liberty, MO. To move onto the next meet in the competition, Coon had to place in the top five. Coon continued to place in the top five to advance to Little Rock, MO. and Greensboro, N.C. For the AAU Jr. Olympics the set up was the same. Coon was able to advance from Independence, MO. to Joplin, MO. and then to Des Moines, Iowa.
This is Tharman’s first year with the program after deciding he wanted to prepare for the high school season year round. “I wanted a good way to help get in shape for outdoor track in the spring,” Tharman said. For now he is competing in just the indoor season, but still debating on the outdoor season. Unlike Coon, Tharman participates in the running events. He runs the 800, the 1500 and the 3000 meter races.
Coon and Tharman both agree that it’s a great way to prepare for the high school season and enjoy everything that the program does. “I like the environment. Everybody there is friendly and competitive and they’re all there for the same reasons I am,” Tharman said. Coon said it’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and college coaches at the meets too.
Practices are held at Kansas State University and meets are mostly in Kansas, Missouri or Nebraska, so the main difficulty of participating is the scheduling between school and other extra activities. Coon and Tharman have found it important to improve their skills so they found ways to work the meets and practices into their busy schedules.
“I have a job this year, so I’m slightly late to practices on Sunday. And since I’ve been doing it for four years, I have it worked well in my schedule,” Coon said.
Coon competed at Northwest Missouri State University last weekend and placed first in shot put and weight. Tharman was supposed to compete at Pitt State University, but was unable to compete due to bad weather conditions.
— Kaytlyn Meseke, @kaytlyn_nelle