Sprinters race despite pandemic


Courtesy: Devin Patterson

Nevada Track Club huddle together for a picture after a long meet in Phoenix.

Centennial’s track and field team has transitioned into a club track program in order to continue to safely practice and compete.
In past years, the team has transformed into Nevada Track Club (NTC) for summer track. Track athletes trained and competed in multiple meets in preparation for the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics at the end of the summer.
As the women’s team was preparing to win their 10th state championship title in a row, and the men’s was preparing to reclaim the state title, track and spring sports as a whole were cancelled.
CHS’ track athletes had their training halted for some time, but they started to get their legs back in shape in the summer of 2020. With some breaks in between, NTC is back to regular practice and competition with out-of-town meets.
“Practicing during the pandemic has been interesting especially since we had to find new locations to practice instead of our home track. But competing I would say has been crazy [because] each competition has different rules,” senior sprinter and long jumper, Destiny Santiago said.
“Practicing and competing during the pandemic is a lot different than before. Mostly from wearing masks and getting temperature checks at practice. There’s always worry about catching the virus, but being able to do what you love is worth it,” senior hurdler, Keyona Burrell said.
“Being able to compete and practice takes my mind off the pandemic because instead of thinking what’s going in in the world, I’m focused on how I can improve my times on the track,” senior middle-distance runner, Noah Norris said.
NTC has traveled to both neighboring states and states across the country for opportunities to compete.
“Traveling has been slightly scary. You truly do not know what to expect, you just have to take precautions and be safe. It’s tough being on other folks’ turf all the time. We never get that home field advantage, for that sense of comfort, but I’m sure that it just makes us better competitors in the end,” senior and jumper, Xiamara Young said.
“Traveling out-of-state has definitely been an experience. Going out-of-state with my team is always a great time, but having to deal with the rules for COVID definitely isn’t. There are a couple of negatives like how everywhere we go, a mask has to be worn. Or even how the meets tend to break up the age groups into sessions (for capacity reasons) which often leads to the meet being delayed and not on schedule,” junior sprinter, Chelsea Janis said.
So far, the club team has traveled to Birmingham, AL for an indoor meet, Phoenix for an outdoor meet, and most recently, Virginia Beach, VA for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Indoor Track and Field National. A handful of NTC athletes placed nationally, earned medals and returned to the valley as an All-American.
The continuous travel and risks that come along with it can become tiresome, but athletes are still grateful for each opportunity to race.
“I am more appreciative of track after the shutdown. I feel as if I have to make up for lost time and work even harder because we are a little behind the eight-ball with getting official times and recruited,” Young said.
The chances of having a season for sports felt little to none for spring athletes, but many of them were pleasantly surprised.
“I’m excited for the high school season because it’s my senior year and I want to go out with a bang,” senior sprinter and jumper, Zavian Cook said.
“I am definitely excited for the high school season. Even though it’s significantly shorter than I’m used to, I still want my last chance to compete in high school. I think it’s worth it to win as a team one more time before all our seniors head off to college,” Burrell said.
Centennial’s track coaches and athletes have made the most of the six-week season; the team is determined to reclaim regional titles.
“Anything is better than nothing. I have been waiting to compete and I am grateful CCSD is allowing us the chance to do so,” Young said.