PAINESVILLE — Many track and field athletes who were robbed of a full season due to the coronavirus pandemic spent time Saturday trying to make up for lost time.
Three Ashtabula County teams — Edgewood, Geneva and Jefferson — tried to remember what an invitational track meet felt like as they showed up to the Red Raider Relays.
“It is like starting over again,” Falcons girls coach David Wright said. “We had a program where the seniors teach the freshman and then the seniors lose their season and the freshman lose that knowledge. It’s like we’re starting the program over again.”
Coaches and athletes said they were glad to be back on the track after a year when competition was not allowed.
“I think the very first I noticed when I got here was seeing my colleagues,” Edgewood boys coach Jim Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he missed the camaraderie with other coaches. He is also is looking forward to just having fun coaching the sport he loves.
The numbers of competing athletes seems to have dropped on most teams with a lost season and a pandemic still casting a long shadow over the day to day lives of students.
“We normally have 60 kids and we have 33,” Sanchez said of the combined boys and girls squads.
He said a positive by-product is the athletes who did come out are serious about the sport.
“The kids who are here are making my job easier,” Sanchez said.
Edgewood girls coach Steve Hill said the weather has cooperated nicely so far this season which is always a positive during spring competition in northeastern Ohio.
“The problem is half the kids have never run a high school track meet ... two years is a long gap,” Hill said.
Taylor Skinner, a regional qualifier in the Division II 400 meters as a freshman, is now a junior and trying to get back into the track experience.
“I feel like everyone was a little rusty, but everyone got it back in about a week,” she said.
Wright said Megan Brand, a junior, lost her freshman season to an injury and her sophomore season to the pandemic.
“This is her first opportunity to be in a track meet as a junior,” he said.
Geneva boys coach Emily Long added, “It is the little things you forget.”
Long said having an indoor program helped fill in some of the blanks and provide a warm place to learn technique for many events.
She said the numbers are good for the Eagles with 35 boys and 32 girls competing.
Jefferson boys coach T.J. Furman may have summed up the missing year the best.
“It’s rough,” he said.
Furman said the inability to help the younger athletes develop last year is the biggest loss coming into a new season.
“I think that year of development (loss) is the hardest thing,” he said.
One aspect that did not change in the new year was the success of the Geneva girls and boys teams.
The Eagles girls team bested seven other teams to win with a score of 101 points, beating Riverside by eight points. Edgewood finished third with 52 points and Jefferson checked in fifth with 36.
On the boys side, Geneva claimed second place with 72 points, behind winner Riverside’s 114. Jefferson was third with 62 points and Edgewood seventh at 22.
Geneva girls coach Chip Sorber quickly deflected the credit to all of the Geneva coaches. “We are very proud that our upper class kids led our younger athletes,” he said.