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Tom Mix, Published March 25 2014

Deacons head to Florida for outdoor track meet

FARGO – The North Dakota high school sports calendar has officially flipped to spring, but the weather in the Red River Valley hasn’t always cooperated with that timeline.

This spring doesn’t appear to be as bad as last year, but the Fargo Shanley boys and girls track and field teams aren’t going to wait around to compete in an outdoor meet.

The Deacons boarded a plane at Minneapolis International Airport earlier today with Orlando, Fla., as their destination. Shanley is participating in Walt Disney’s annual outdoor Spring Training Track and Field Series at the ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.

“From a coaching point of view, I’m just happy to be getting the team on a track and have four days of nice weather all in a row,” said Barry Anderson, who is the head coach of the boys and girls squads at Shanley. “We are happy to be going and representing Shanley as well as the state of North Dakota.”

Shanley is scheduled to compete against five other teams from Florida in a meet Saturday as well as have full use of the training facilities for three additional practices during the trip. Also included on the itinerary is a trip to Cocoa Beach and three theme parks.

“This is a huge advantage for us,” Shanley senior boys captain Sebastian Startz said. “The focus of this trip is to get outside because last year we did not get a chance to do that until mid-April. It will be nice to get some quality workouts in.”

A total of 26 athletes – 19 girls and seven boys – will be making the trip to Florida.

Shanley assistant coach Greg Falde said that the team has been fundraising for 10 months.

Along with donations, members of the team hosted car washes, collected raffle tickets and worked concessions at numerous Shanley athletic contests in the fall and winter seasons.

Anderson said the team made a similar trip to Florida in 2005 and it was a success.

“The philosophy behind it is to reward our kids for their hard work,” Anderson said. “That is a big part to it, but it also serves as a springboard to the season. In 2005, we had a great team, and it seemed like that meet launched us into the season. We got out on a track early in the year, which is always nice.”

Anderson got clearance for the trip from Shanley’s administration last year as well as the North Dakota High School Activities Association.

If an athlete makes a state-qualifying standard at the meet, it will be recognized in North Dakota.

Last season, Shanley and most of the teams across the state did not participate in an outdoor meet until April 26 due to late-season snow.

Shanley senior girls captain Taylor Baumler said she is excited to run in a completely different atmosphere.

“The farthest our group has gone with the track and field team is Minneapolis,” Baumler said. “Being that it is my senior year, it is nice to have an experience like this before I leave. I have been competing in track for six years now, so it will be a nice change. I’m really excited. I think it will be a great experience for everyone.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562