Track team looks to build on record-breaking season

The track team had a historic season this year following last year’s cancellation, setting two school records.

Both boys and girls teams have won multiple meets this season, head girls coach Jamie Hayes said.

Hayes said that this season has been one of her most successful, despite being moved up to Division 1 for the first time in program history. She added that it will be a challenge because the majority of Division 1 teams have many more students at their schools.

“At our home meet, we dominated by winning eight out of 12 events and winning the competition,” Hayes said. “We recently won the Grandview Bobcat Invitational and placed middle of the pack in our big Division 1 competition.”

Junior Asia Michaels, who is a member of the girls team and competes in the 400m dash, 200m dash, 4x200m relay, and the 4x400m relay, said that the team is starting to accomplish some of their preseason goals.

“Before the season, we had a goal to win meets against the teams in our league,” she said. “After winning meets against Grandview and Whitehall, we have achieved this goal as a team.”

Hayes said that the future of the program looks bright with the success of underclassmen this season.

“Our sprint relay, made up of three freshmen and one sophomore, has been doing incredibly well this season,” Hayes stated. “(Sophomore) Sydnie Smith has been our best thrower this year. She has either won or placed second in virtually every meet this year.”

Sophomore Mason Louis, who is a member of the boys track team and races in the 100m dash, 200m dash, 300m hurdles, 400m dash, and the 4x400m relays, has led the track team with two school records this season.

“My biggest successes this year have been setting school records for the fastest 300 meter hurdles and 400 meter dash,” Louis said.

Senior Spencer Stevenson, who runs in the 800m dash, 4x800m relay, and 4x400m relay, said that team records were the highlight of his season.

“At the Grandview Heights Invitational, we set the meet record for the 4x400m relay,” Stevenson said. “It felt so great to accomplish that with my teammates.”

Louis added that the team is starting to hit their stride as they approach the postseason.

“My teammates and I have performed pretty well this season, and we’re starting to see some of our best times towards the end of the season,” Louis said.

Stevenson echoed Louis’ statement that the boys team was really starting to improve toward the end of the season.

“With a couple of key victories at recent meets, I’m optimistic about what the postseason might hold for us,” Stevenson said.

Hayes explained that because the track team is the biggest program in the school, they have had to constantly enforce COVID-19 protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing.

“This season, we have the biggest team I’ve coached in my 10 years, with 54 girls,” Hayes said. “Obviously, it’s a priority to keep our players healthy, but it can be difficult to distance that many people.”

Hayes added that players must remain vigilant about COVID-19 at all times, such as wearing masks when not competing to ensure that they don’t have an outbreak.

Michaels said that players have had to keep in mind that one COVID-19 outbreak could jeopardize the season.

“COVID-19 has made us constantly be cautious of who we are near and how far apart we are from each other,” Michaels said. “Because the track team has so many kids, it’s more difficult than it seems to spread everyone out.”

Stevenson said the unpredictability of COVID-19 has made this season his most challenging.

“The constant fear of a COVID-19 shutdown has made the team take protocols very seriously,” he said. “Practices and competitions have looked completely different this year, and we have been ready for changes to come at any moment.”

The track team is something that he will miss most about high school, Stevenson added.

“From long runs after school to running and placing in state meets, I’m grateful to have been a part of the team,” Stevenson said. “Track and field were one of the best experiences in my high school career.”