Track: The World of Grueling, Yet Some Simple Pre-game Routines


Steven Van Belleghem leads his event at a track meet.

Tyler Yakimisky, Staff reporter

There are 60 athletes on the track and field team and most, if not all of them, have separate individual pre-meet routines to get them ready for the meet, but they all come together as a team when they get off the bus to get loose and stretch.

Therefore, many of the team members believe their individual pre-meet routines are just as important as team pre-meet routines in order to mentally and physically prepare for the competition ahead of them.

“Before we would race, I would put a teaspoon of baking soda in my mouth and then wash it down with Gatorade. The sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda, is supposed to be a buffer from lactic acid in the blood stream,” said Head Varsity Track and Field Coach Ethan Karolczak, who graduated from MHS in 1994 and participated on the track team.

Karolczak did this so that he would not cramp up during the meet. Along with this, Karolczak also did other pre-meet routines, which came right before he warmed up with his team on the bus or while gearing up in the locker room.

“I liked to listen to music before we warmed up,” Karolczak said.

Some specific songs Karolczak listened to were “My Name is Mud” by Primus and a reggae mixtape his friend made; however, his favorite singers were Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

After Karolczak’s days of being a track and field player, he is now a coach and realizes that a lot of his players like to listen to music on the bus before a meet or in the locker room just like him. But, he likes the pre-meet routine that the team performs when warming-up for a meet.

“Everybody puts their hood up and [runs a lap to get the blood flowing] with their hood up…It sends a message that we’re here and ready for business,” said Karolczak.

On top of that, Karolczak also emphasized the importance of a Leadership Council that the track and field team has set up. The Leadership Council consists of track and field athletes who are the team leaders and lead the team in stretching and preparing mentally for the task at hand.

“Right at the end of the warm-up, the Leadership Council calls everyone together and says stuff to get the team pumped up,” Karolczak said.

The track and field Leadership Council is in charge of maintaining the core values of the team and being responsible for not defacing the MHS track team. The Leadership Council also is in charge of giving feedback to the coaching staff on the team decisions and activities.

As a member of the Leadership Council, Neukam likes to help get the team pumped up for a meet. He also likes to stay positive and make the team think positively when the team is not doing the best or if someone is having a bad meet.

“I try to stay loose and not get too serious and try to stay positive,” said Neukam.

Along with being members of the Leadership Council, Neukam and Bobby Nuzzo, sophomore, also mentioned having lucky attire that they like to wear and put on before a meet, as it helps them get ready for the competition.

“I always wear my necklace. I always wear white compressions; they’re my thing that’s lucky that I normally wear. Also, I always wear plain white Nike socks and white spikes because it makes you look like you run faster,” said Neukam.

Nuzzo also wears certain attire as a way to mentally prepare for a meet.

“I always wear the same headband for every meet. It gives me confidence,” said Nuzzo.

As a member of the Leadership Council, Neukam also likes to help get the team pumped up and ready for the meet.

Lastly, some track and field players, like Neukam, believe not over thinking the meet is the key to success as it allows them to just have fun.

Said Neukam. “I always just goof around and keep everything upbeat because when I feel like I overthink it, I get in my own head.”