Last year, the track season was derailed by the pandemic, causing the Westminster track team to miss out on the chance to compete for a state title. However, the Westminster track team has had a great year so far, and hopes are high for the TrackCats to finish the season strong.
“We only had two meets last year before the rest of the season was cancelled,” said sophomore Kelsey Chambers, whose events include triple jump, high jump, and hurdles. “Luckily, this season has gone much better.”
The team has been able to participate in many meets this year, despite the fact that traveling has been limited due to COVID-19 protocols.
“We haven’t been able to travel to some of the big away meets,” said sophomore Chase Hunsicker, who specializes in distance running. “We always look forward to those, so it was pretty disappointing when we found out that we couldn’t travel for meets.”
Head track coach Gary Jones says that the pandemic has affected the team socially. In past years, traveling to the away meets has played a huge part in boosting the team’s camaraderie.
“Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to have some of the out-of-town meets, including the ones to Florida,” said Jones. “This has impacted the team because usually team members can bond and have fun on the bus together.”
While the social effects of the pandemic were considerable, Jones believes that the team has remained consistent throughout the season athletically.
“All of the coaches have made sure to follow health and safety protocols during track practice and training,” said Jones. “The kids have taken all of these changes in stride and remained consistent in their performance all year.”
The track team has definitely channeled that consistency into a fantastic season. Westminster is the only AAA school to have had both the boys and girls track teams rank in the top three in the division. Both teams have had many wins this season, despite increased competition in the state and regional meets.
“To prepare for state, we increased the difficulty of some of the events while training, like by moving up the height of the hurdles,” said Chambers. “We also have been staying a little later for practice.”
Jones and the rest of the track coaches have also been challenging the track team members who qualify for region meets to ensure they are prepared for their specific events.
“During practice, the coaches and I have been training the region qualifiers by helping them polish up their techniques in each of their individual events,” said Jones.
The team also had a tune-up meet to prepare for the regionals. They faced Pace, Wesleyan, and GAC, who are all tough competition for Westminster. Jones believes that the Westminster track team has the ability to meet the lofty goal of a state title.
“We are shooting for state championships on the girls and boys sides, and I think we can secure both of those,” said Jones.
The track team has faced many challenges brought on by the pandemic, both socially and athletically. However, they have remained together as a team and stayed consistent all year during practice and meets, helping them to have a great season so far. Now that the home stretch of the track season is coming up, the track team is solely focused on performing well and winning a state title, which would surely make up for last season’s disappointment. Based on the team’s many great performances throughout the season and the extra preparation they have been doing, a state title definitely seems within reach.