“It would be nice to get outside and on the track,” said John Mclaurin. “But that'll be awhile.” Mclaurin is the Devils Lake Firebirds track and field head coach.

“It would be nice to get outside and on the track,” said John Mclaurin.  “But that’ll be awhile.”  Mclaurin is the Devils Lake Firebirds track and field head coach.

The Firebirds are training on the concrete in the Burdick Arena.  Mats are set up for the high jump.  A tape is laid out for the long jump and triple jump.  Hurdles stand on the other side arena.  But there’s no area for field event practice.  That’s where Mclaurin really wishes he could focus some practice.  The long distance runners have the roads.  Shotputs and concrete don’t play well together.

The season optimistically started in early March.  So far the Firebirds have had one meet and that was the Belcourt Invitational on March 20.  April, red in tooth and claw, isn’t looking much better for the season’s start.

“A couple of weeks ago we were in Belcourt,” said Mclaurin, “and did pretty well.  It was a small meet, but we had some good finishes.  This Friday we’re in Fargo for the EDC Indoor Meet.  That’s much bigger, more schools, so we get to see how we match up.”

Mclaurin says his team is pretty young yet.  One of his top runners on the girls varsity is an eighth grader.  “We actually have a couple of eighth graders who are pretty promising,” he said.  “Our girls will do really well this year.  The 4x800 relay should place at State.  Our to eighth grader placed seventh last year at State, and is faster and stronger this year.  Jess Mertens will have a big year, with the 4x800 relay, the 400, and the high jump.  For the boys, Leif and Grant Nelson are State-bound in the high jump.  Ian Tjelta will do well for us this year, too.”

The girls track team picked up five firsts, three seconds, five thirds, and two fourths at Belcout.  The boys team picked up two firsts, one second, two thirds, and five fourths.

“We’ll have some success this year,” Mclaurin said, “and I expect some of these kids going to State again.  But we’re young, so the season will be tough, but we’ve got a promising future.”