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Nowhere to run

The high school track and field season was prepping to begin the regular season, but like everything else, the coronavirus has that on hold

 

March 25, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Havre Middle School track stands empty on Tuesday afternoon in Havre. The track normally houses Havre High track and field practice every afternoon in the spring, and was getting close to holding a number of exciting regular season meets. However, due to the growing COVID-19 epidemic, the Montana High School Association has suspended the spring sports season until at least April 13.

First it was an abrupt end to the high school basketball season. Then it was spring sports.

When it comes to track and field on the Hi-Line, it brings about a lot of talented athletes and is full of excitement. But with COVID-19 making things difficult, area teams are stuck at home, waiting and hoping for a chance to get back out on the track.

One of those teams is the Havre Blue Ponies, having had a good showing in recent years under head coach John Ita, who is doing his best to keep the teams' spirits up during the trying time.

"At this point, I have contacted the team through email and tried to convey to them to remain upbeat and optimistic," Ita said. "We are working at HHS to get our academic channels of communication up and running first and foremost."

This week was to be a big one for track and field in Montana, too.

The Cal Wearly Invitational in Havre is one of the biggest meets in the state, especially for the Hi-Line athletes and fans. Up at the Havre Middle School Track, North Star High was to host this year's meet shortly, but the Montana High School Association put spring sports on hold until April 13.

North Star has been another school on the Hi-Line that has worked hard on the track, too, with Knights athletic director and coach Brian Campbell at the helm. As the Montana High School Association works to make their decision with spring sports, Campbell has been keeping his team in shape through safe practices.

"We have stressed that they need to work individually or with their family members," Campbell said. "I think like so many other things right now we don't have many answers, but we are trying to do the best we can. As coaches at North Star, we are really hopeful that we can have the season because we have a great group of kids and a nice turnout. However, if the season does proceed it is going to be uncharted territory, so we will all figure it out as we go."

The MHSA is still working on a verdict for the spring season, which will look to be decided on April 13. If things go the right way, the Cal Wearly Invite will be rescheduled to a different date. North Star has looked forward to hosting the invite and it was a big thing for the Knights.

The meet in Havre was not just exciting for the Ponies and North Star, but the other teams that travel up state to compete. With the current situation, the Cal Wearly Invite may not even happen, leaving athletes without a great competition, the stands empty of fans and a lacking presence of the sport along the Hi-Line.

In the case of the athletes, some like Blue Pony senior Preston Glock are currently finding another way to prepare and stay in shape with the season at a standstill.

"Well, I'm back to full-time at my workplace to keep me in shape somewhat," Glock said. "If the season ever rolls back around, I'd hope to be ready."

Meanwhile, there were others like HHS senior Mitch Woronik, who had aspirations to try something new after not participating in track and field in the last three years of his high school career.

"Well, it was going to be my first and last year as a senior for track, so I was excited to be going into a sport because I've never been in a sport," Woronik said. "At first it was pretty depressing, but now there's not much else to do, but keep my head up and move forward. Just because track might not be a thing anymore doesn't mean I can't still be more fit, run and work out. Who knows, maybe we will still have a season."

It will be a long jump before Hi-Line track teams know the fate of their season and the Cal Wearly Invitational. Many athletes, especially the seniors, hope for their last year with their schools and on the team to be a memorable one. As of now, the coaches, teams and fans are left in the dark.

Until the MHSA executive board makes the call on the spring sports season on April 13, the Hi-Line will have to wait and see what the future holds, especially when it comes to the Cal Wearly Invitational. Even so, many are hoping to get back out there and make some noise in Montana track and field.

 

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