Taking stock of an 'odd' high school track season
The Sporting EdgeThursday, April 29, 2021
With Paul Reid
In our lead sports story today, Stephen Smith, president of the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA), the decades-old body that organises the Western High school track and field championships, described today's staging as 'odd'.
He is correct in more ways than one, also, when he spoke of the 'new normal,' as nothing about West Champs being held in late April made any sense, at least up until last year, before COVID-19 arrived on our shores.
Traditionally, Western Champs is held in the third week of February over three days — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday — after Western Relays, four days of exciting track and field.
In late April, the high school season is for all intents and purposes over and done, and only the top athletes will stay in competition trying to make the various national junior teams — this year it's the World Under- 20 championships.
In late April too, teams should be returning from the Penn Relays, the traditional end of the Jamaican high school season, and attention will be switching to examinations.
What is even odder is that the ISSA National Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships (Champs) is still two weeks away, and will be held in May for the first time in its more than 110-year history.
The track season started late and was further suspended by the Government, out of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
But this is not about complaining or grumbling, no, we should be celebrating, this time, two weeks ago, we were not sure that the juniors would get the chance to run again and there was a strong possibility that some athletes would miss Champs in two consecutive years.
There were fears that all the hard work that had been put in by the student-athletes and the coaches and all the money spent and resources invested would all be for nought, if Champs had not been allowed to be held.
With scholarship offers literally hanging in the balance depending on the result from Champs, it could have been catastrophic for those who would have exhausted their eligibility at Champs and not had the opportunity to prove themselves.
So, while the COCAA president might have been talking about the lateness of the season and the fact that Western Champs will be just one day with a timed final format, that is, they will race just once in each event rather than multiple rounds, there will be a number of other reasons why it will be strange to be at a track meet as May looms on the calendar.
We can only hope that the athletes will step up today and also be able to stay injury-free, as Champs is just around the corner, and still be able to produce quality performances.
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