On Saturday, several athletes from area schools will compete in the 1A/2A/3A state indoor track championship in Chapel Hill.
For most of the runners, it will only be the second time they've run on an indoor track this season.
For high schools all around the state, the sport is only indoor in name, not in practice. The only indoor track facility in the state is at UNC Chapel Hill. Clemson University and Virginia Tech also have facilities.
"Everybody around here is pushing to get one (a facility) in the west," said Jay M. Robinson indoor track coach Anthony Blakeney. His runners sometimes practice outside, but when it's too cold or with bad weather, Blakeney has his athletes run the school hallways.
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UNC Chapel Hill hosts two indoor high school meets to give athletes a chance to run on a real indoor track. Other schools will host meets during the season, but they are run on outdoor tracks.
Indoor tracks are shorter (200 meters compared to 400 meters for an outdoor track), which means that runners are turning more, usually forcing them to run a little slower. It's also tough on them mentally, having to run double the amount of laps.
Indoor track focuses on individual performance, and teams do not keep records at meets. Runners are focused on meeting certain criteria to qualify for the state meet. All the team meets are focused on giving runners a chance to qualify.
Most athletes simply use it as a time to get ready for spring track.
"The athletes we have are usually dedicated to get ready for outdoors," said Daniel Helms, indoor track coach at Northwest Cabarrus. "Track is a sport where you can't just jump in day one."
The teams are usually smaller and made up of the more elite runners on the team. It gives coaches a chance to give more personal instruction and get their best athletes ready for spring season.
"Our objective is not the end of February," said Hickory Ridge coach Chris Balga. "It's May."
But the indoor runners are still focused on beating personal records and performing well at the state meet.
Here's a look at the runners who will be representing Cabarrus County at the state meet.
Jay M. Robinson
Senior Erin Tucker will compete in two events at the state meet, the 55-meter dash and the 55-meter hurdles. Last year she finished sixth in the state in the hurdles event.
Even though she moved down from 4A this year, she thinks last year was easier.
"I actually have some competition (this year)" she said.
Despite increased competition, her coach expects she will do well.
"I'll be disappointed if she doesn't win at least one state title," said Blakeney.
Tucker, who is also a cheerleader, is interested in studying forensic sciences and communication in college. She is considering going to and running for Western Carolina University, East Carolina University or UNC Wilmington.
One of Tucker's tough competitors will be from cross-town rival Concord.
Junior Juanita Leto will be also be competing in the 55-meter hurdles in Chapel Hill.
The 16-year-old ran the third fastest time in the state with a 8.49 second performance.
"I'm very excited," she said about her first time competing at the indoor competition. She competed in the state outdoor meet her freshman and sophomore year.
"My No. 1 goal right now is to make it to the finals," said Leto.
Leto is confident she will do well at the meet, but, she said, "anything can happen with hurdles."
With about 30 athletes, Hickory Ridge boasts the largest team in the area.
Coye Still, a senior, will compete in the long jump and high jump. He placed fourth in the long jump and third in the high jump at last year's indoor state meet.
"I just want to go up and get a few good jumps," said Still. "Who knows what will happen."
The 18-year-old plans on attending UNC Charlotte or Appalachian State University next year.
Junior Taryn Stern will be competing at the state meet for the first time in the 800-meter run.
"I'm actually quite nervous," she said. "I've got to stay focused."
She has been to the outdoor state meet in her freshman and sophomore years. She said the cold really affects how you prepare during indoor season.
"You have to take time to go to the gym," she said, because of how often the cold weather keeps them from practicing as a team.
Helms will be sending three seniors and one sophomore to the indoor state meet this year.
Senior Richard Cotton will compete in the 300-meter run. He made it to the outdoor state meet last year.
Cotton said the hard work he has put in has paid off this year, and he hopes to bring his time down to 35 seconds in his event.
What drives him, he said, is the competition.
"Winning - just being in front of everybody - feels good," said Cotton.
Cotton wants to go to ASU, ECU or WCU for track after graduation.
Teammate Richie Lane said he started running track in middle school and has been drawn to the sport ever since.
"I fell in love with track," he said. "I don't know how."
Lane will compete in the 55-meter hurdles at the indoor state meet. He also plays football, basketball and is in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
He constantly tries to be the best at his event. He went to the state meet as a spectator last year, but pushed himself this year to be able to compete in it.
He would like to attend Lees-McRae College or Elizabeth City State University to run track or play basketball.
Senior Trevor Anderson is one of the favorites at the state meet in the triple jump event, said Helms.
"He's dedicated to his craft," said Helms. "He works like no other at his event."
Sophomore Arianna Tucker will compete in the high jump at the state meet.
"She just has a natural ability at the high jump," said Helms.
She has already gotten to the same level she was at the end of last year, according to her coach. By the time she's a senior, Helms expects her to be threatening the school record of 5 feet 8 inches.
Three girls and two boys will represent Mount Pleasant for the first time at the indoor state meet.
Sophomore Kaleigh Norris will compete in the pole vault competition.
"She's been hitting some fantastic heights in practice," said Mount Pleasant coach Jim Clark.
As a freshman, she finished sixth in the state at the spring meet.
Joslynn Parnell, a senior, will compete in shot put. She's been in the top 10 in the state during the spring season every year except for her freshman year.
She has a potential scholarship offer from ASU, said Clark.
Freshman Miranda Clark will compete in the 300-meter run.
"I look at her as one of the up-and-coming, top-10 runners in the state," said Clark.
On the boys' side, Kunle Akindahunsi, a junior, will compete in the 300-meter event along with senior Garrett Miller.
"They trade of who's coming in first," said Clark.