By Mike Smith
With Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, and a Super Bowl Sunday on the horizon without Tom Brady or State Championship meets that day, some might think it’s a bit early to be thinking about spring track. Fair enough. But with only six weeks until the season opens you can’t blame a guy for wishing to look forward towards our first “regular” track season in two years.
As it stands now, the base plan is to go back to our regular, ten week regular season, with Invitationals back on the docket. Also the plan is to have our usual Divisional championships where both genders are at the same meet at the same time. And while we’re using a spread schedule (three championship meets over three days) the feel for athletes and coaches will be the same as it was back in 2019. Of course this will be dependent on what version of the Covid-19 virus we’re battling with transmission and infection rates, but the going plan is for full championships. And this is good.
We don’t have to look back too far to recognize where we were a year ago. While we certainly anticipated last year was going to be different, but I can say I hadn’t envisioned split meets, full mask protocols, and reduced fields. Kudos to those who worked diligently behind the scenes to get that much for us last year. Bringing some semblance of athletics to high school athletes over the last two years certainly has come with it’s challenges.
But the goal and my hope is to have as normal a spring track schedule and season as possible. Will Covid-19 still rear its ugly head here and there? Possibly. Can we know what that will mean? No. But I can say I’m confident we will be able to find a way through that is nowhere as disruptive as it has been in the past.
I look at the recent Millrose Games. Having watched a short video by the Very Nice Track Club on Nick Willis’s 20 year string of sub 4 minute miles, the Armory was rocking, jammed with people in a city that’s the most dense population in America. If they can do it, so can we.
And while it was tough to go without a NHIAA indoor track season, many athletes around the state have taken the opportunity to race in “open” races around the region with some fantastic results being put up. I mean two guys recently (Cox and Sheedy) ran under the State record in the 3000 meters. Not bad stuff. So while Winter 2022 was without a State Championship, it wasn’t without competition.
For me, the spring will reveal our newly resurfaced track. Of course that means a resurfacing of stone dust, but being recently upgraded is a step in the right direction. We’ll once again host our signature “Dirt Track Classic” with our unique brand of events along with our combined high school/middle school meet. And while having a rubberized synthetic track would be nice for when the snow melts and track begins, I’ll take the soft surface and early May start date for usage to “harden” my athletes for their competition come end of May. I can’t say I’ve ever had any overuse issues developed by doing too much too early. And that’s good.
So as the snow continues to pile up, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump until we’re back prepping for the 2022 track and field season.