COVID-19 Poses Several Setbacks for Pennridge Track Athletes

Abigael Reilly, Student Writer

Amongst multiple other setbacks, COVID-19 has affected sports, such as track. Beginning last spring, the track season was canceled, leaving senior athletes to miss out on their senior season. This year, athletes will still have their seasons, but with several restrictions. The normalcy of track is now changed, but instead of posing a better outcome, it seems to be holding athletes, such as senior, Payton Mann, back.

Even with COVID-19, the winter track athletes practice every day, just as they had last year, but they were forced to hold track meets outside, rather than at Lehigh University as in past years. This meant that they didn’t get to practice handoffs for relay races, and sometimes didn’t even use batons depending on the meet. There were also fewer events to compete in, such as the long jump, because pits aren’t open outside during the winter. However, the changes didn’t stop within the meets themselves. Lockers aren’t being used, resulting in some athletes changing and leaving items in their cars.

Spring track practice has been going on but also poses difficulties for athletes. Practice starts at 2:30 p.m., so on some launch days, it is hard to get to practice on time. Some tenth-period teachers use the whole allotted time schedule which leaves athletes only 15 minutes to both get ready and drive to practice. 

Among other things, COVID-19 has forced spring track athletes to practice with masks at all times unless they are doing intense training. Even then, the athletes must be distanced from other people to remove their masks. Payton Mann said, “I feel like I am running underwater,” when explaining what running with a mask feels like.

Other restrictions include the team splitting into two groups: distance runners and sprinters. Although this would seem to divide the team up, it is creating stronger bonds between the runners in each group, especially for the athletes that have been running together for years. 

However, despite all these setbacks, sprinters and distance runners alike are looking forward to being able to compete this spring season, and for some senior athletes, Payton included, COVID-19 has not seemed to affect their decision on where to run in college.Motivation has also been a struggle for current athletes. Dottie Mann, Payton’s mom, says the worst part is a, “lack of camaraderie with spectators.” Many of these athletes find competing harder because of the lack of support, even if they know their family is there watching.