Simpson sophomore Carter Fricke was preparing for the outdoor track season in March when he and his teammates received some bad news.
The NCAA had cancelled the outdoor season due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Fricke and his teammates had just completed practice and were headed to a meeting to discuss workouts over spring break when they heard the news. The next day the American Rivers Conference cancelled the remaining meets and practices, putting a complete end to the track season.
“My initial thoughts when that was released was how bad I felt for the seniors and fifth-year guys that didn’t get the chance to run their final outdoor season,” Fricke said. “They’d put in four-plus of hard work and dedication and now it was taken from them.”
Seeing many of his senior teammates get denied their final season of competition hit home for Fricke. He had gone through a challenging situation of his own as a senior in high school at Collins-Maxwell.
Fricke had spent his athletic career as part of Collins-Maxwell-Baxter. But the two schools ended their sports-sharing agreement following the conclusion of summer sports in 2017.
Fricke began his senior year right after the split. In what seemed like the blink of an eye he went from Raider silver and black to Spartan blue and white.
“The most difficult thing was actually getting into the spirit of supporting the Spartans,” Fricke said. “When the split finally came I wanted nothing to do with the Spartans because I had been a Raider all my life and it just felt wrong to me. On top of that, I was constantly dealing with the thought of ‘what if we had stayed as CMB?’”
But it didn’t take long for Fricke to come around.
“Our first year as the Spartans, we just really tried to focus on creating new experiences and setting the bar high for years to come,” Collins-Maxwell head cross country and girls’ track coach Jerry Meinerts said. “Carter did a great job of leading the team and setting the new standards for what it means to be a Spartan.”
Cross country was Fricke’s first sport as a Spartan. He placed in the top 10 at seven meets, including 10th at the Iowa Star Conference meet.
During basketball Fricke averaged a team-high 10 points per game.
A young Spartan team won only two games in its first season. But Fricke provided tremendous leadership that rubbed off on the younger players, who have gone on to improve the program’s win total each of the past two seasons.
Then Fricke entered his favorite time of the year. His two favorite sports are track and soccer and he participated in both during the spring.
“They were always the two that I was excited about every practice and every match or meet,” Fricke said. “I wouldn’t say I have a particular reason that I like them both other than that.”
He had no problem excelling in both sports.
“These sports do complement each other pretty well,” Meinerts said. “Track really helps with soccer, as track coaches are running drills all day to make the athletes faster and quicker. Soccer practices include a lot of running, so that might help with his track conditioning. Thankfully, he never got injured in soccer.”
In soccer Fricke led the 2018 Spartans in both goals and assists at 17 and 11 respectively. On the track he qualified for state in both the 200-meter dash and the open 400, placing 10th in the 200 prelims and 19th overall in the 400 during Class 1A competition.
His success in track enabled him to continue his career in college as part of the Simpson men’s track roster.
“Carter has always been an athletic kid,” Meinerts said. “Even from an early age, he was very active. Watching him run in high school, you knew he was a very special athlete and that he was just one of those kids born with fast-twitch muscles. You knew that if he wanted to run in college, he could.”
Over his two years running for the Storm he has competed in the open 55, 60, 200, 300, 400 and the 4 X 400 relay during the indoor season. As a freshman he ran 100, 200, 400, 4 X 100, 4 X 200 and 4 X 400 events in outdoor competition.
“I enjoy having the longer indoor and outdoor seasons as well as being able to run the 60-meter dash,” Fricke said. “I never ran it in high school but now it has become one of my stronger events and I enjoy getting to participate in it. On top of that, it is fun to watch the variety of events that collegiate athletes have as compared to high school.”
During the 2020 indoor season Fricke ran the second-fastest times on the team in both the 60, 200 and 300 and tied for the fastest time in 55.
From running, to hanging out with his teammates, to developing a ritual of eating a slice of pizza in one bite on the bus ride home from meets — Fricke is missing out on a lot this spring due to COVID-19. But he hasn’t let that keep him from still being as active as he can during the current social-distancing period.
“It was tough at first,” Fricke said. “But I’ve started to settle into the routine of wake up, get ready for the day, do some homework and sit in on my online classes, do some work for my job, get a workout in, and then play some video games or do something to relax after dinner.”
He’s also had time to help his younger sister Avery.
Avery is a sophomore at Collins-Maxwell. She ran at state track last season and was also part of the Spartans’ back-to-back state championship softball teams the past two years.
As of now the track season start has been pushed back to the first week of May. But it is still uncertain if the track or softball seasons will be able to proceed.
Should the track season be allowed to proceed Fricke is doing his best to make sure little sister is ready.
“She’s been doing my workouts with me and I’m giving her some tips here and there on block starts, or driving her knees more, or just giving her some motivation to work harder,” Fricke said. “If the time comes where those sports are actually taken from her I think it’s encouraging for her to remember she still has two seasons left to compete.”
Avery certainly appreciates the support.
“Carter has been a huge influence on me as a runner,” Avery said. “Seeing him have success in track and cross country made me realize that I could be good too — if I put in the work like he did.”
Fricke is majoring in business management at Simpson. He already has a good idea of what he wants to do after college.
“I plan to get a job as either a software developer or web designer,” Fricke said. “Sometime in the future I would also like to complete a half marathon and then a (full) marathon. Other than that, I’m leaving it pretty open and I’ll decide it as I go.”