Catholic HS outdoor track and field season set to roll, but pandemic lingers in the background | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
The CHSAA varsity outdoor track and field season opens Thursday (April 1, 2021), with the Season Opener being held at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island. And it’s safe to say that all the Island teams are looking forward to organized competition.
The PSAL teams aren’t scheduled to start until May 1 and will run their own meets.
There was CHASS competition during the fall cross country and indoor seasons, with the CHSAA putting together a schedule that left the doors open to cancellation.
There were no competitions at the venerable New Balance Center in Manhattan, and few competitions at Ocean Breeze.
There was, however, an Intersectional indoor championship held last month, and once again, the CHSAA has put together a series of outdoor meets culminating in the CHSAA Intersectional championships on May 29.
That’s the good news.
Gone from the outdoor schedule are such local staples as the Big Blue Classic at St. Joseph by-the-Sea, the Farrell Invitational, the Curtis Vacation Run, and the Staten Island Relays.
For the second year, the Penn Relays have been canceled, and the Glenn D. Loucks Games in White Plains has been scaled down to a local meet. In addition, many other major invitationals have been cancelled.
The biggest headache for Island coaches relate to practice, or maybe a lack of practice.
PRACTICE SCHEDULES ALTERED
Practice schedules have had to be altered, and Island coaches lament the lack of consistency.
With schools on hybrid schedules, with some learning going on at home, team practices are piecemeal.
“We haven’t had three straight weeks of training since November,” said Monsignor Farrell coach John Bentivegna.
“School has been shut down at times, and we closed for mid-term exams.”
But Bentivegna remains optimistic, saying, “Since Christmas vacation, it hasn’t been too bad, and in the last six weeks, the practices have been pretty consistent.”
J.P. Pablo, the coach at St. Joseph Hill, said that the uncertainty of schooling, practices, and meets caused some girls, especially seniors, to reevaluate their priorities.
With many girls absent, practices become almost an after-thought.
Is it worth it going to Ocean Breeze for indoor workouts?
Pablo had his girls working out, when they could, on the Hill campus.
Al Garcia, the Notre Dame Academy mentor, held twice-a-week workouts at Ocean Breeze, and his team reaped the benefits, finishing a good second at the indoor Intersectionals. Several of Garcia’s girls also competed in off-Island meets, with Alyssa Hoban setting the Island pole vault record.
Jim Hughes, the Moore coach, is facing a double problem, with uneven practices and the loss of the Moore facility, due to renovations. The veteran coach was recently scouting out areas in Willowbrook Park for team workouts.
St. Joseph by-the-Sea boys’ coach Chris Mancusi said that “with so many kids being quarantined, our biggest challenge has been the inconsistency in practices.”
Nicole Delaney is the new coach of the Sea girls, and she’s walking into “an all new experience.”
“Every other week, four or five kids are out, and many of our new girls never got the chance to compete indoors.”
There is a schedule, but for all teams, there are problems.
TREKKING TO ICAHN
Trekking to Icahn Stadium involves, in most cases, busing, which raises social distancing questions. And it’s difficult to contest the vertical jumps, where athletes land in the pit; ideally, each landing area should be cleansed after every attempt.
Hughes, and several other coaches, are looking into the possibility of smaller Island competition, perhaps dual or triangular meets.
Many other areas in the country are opening up for competition, but the athletic world has experienced some spikes in COVID-related cases.
With the pandemic always in the background, no coach is sure of anything. The CHSAA has done the best it can, and with a cross country, indoor, and outdoor season, the parochial school athletes have some kind of schedule, and a season of sorts.
Mancusi, summing up the view of most, takes a positive view of the CHSAA schedule, saying, “Every meet is a blessing. Anytime we get to compete is a plus.”
(Don’t miss the Catholic HS outdoor track & field season previews on the web Thursday morning. They also can be found in the Staten Island Advance).