The first time the spring sports season was suspended in March, Liberty Ranch track and field coach Cory Gage and other coaches brainstormed an alternate schedule where they could still hold a shortened season.
With the latest announcement that schools will be shut down until May 1, however, the chance for a revived season is fading.
Liberty Ranch track and field had only competed in two meets before schools were shut down as a safety measure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sierra Valley Conference trials and finals are scheduled for Saturday, May 2. If school activities and classes were to resume that weekend, the Hawks would have had no preparation time and, for some, little experience competing before the meet.
The next meet after league championships is the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4-5 Championships, scheduled for May 12 and 14.
“The other coaches and I were starting to look at dates, plans, so we could go to the athletic directors and say, would this work?” Gage said March 30 about the first announcement about the coronavirus break.
With no time for proper conditioning or official workouts before May 2, the chance that the meet would happen, even if schools were given the okay, now seems slim in Gage’s eyes.
Having competed in the Feb. 29 Glen Poole Invitational and a March 4 home meet against Calaveras, the Hawks’ roster of 58 hadn’t had much time to see if their times would keep improving or if they could learn more about the sport.
Gage said with some athletes starting the season late or, in some cases, not getting to start the season at all due to the Hawks’ basketball team reaching the CIF Nor Cal playoffs, the Hawks hadn’t really even seen their full roster compete.
“It was nice. We were still building in numbers because the timing on this happening was that the kids were still coming in from other sports. All these other things were still wrapping up,” Gage said of the team’s camaraderie. “We had a good start. We were still small, but building. I had a lot of underclassmen; you need those freshmen coming in to get them involved. We did have quite a few freshmen and a bunch of sophomores.”
While this season would have been a stepping stone for the younger athletes to next year’s season, veteran returning athletes had been working toward doing well at league and returning to the postseason.
Cristian Martinez, who won the SVC Championship in three events last season and went on to compete at Masters, had already set a personal record in the 800-meter run at the Glen Poole Invitational.
“Alicia [Castaneda], she was half a second behind her best time in the hurdles the first meet of the season. It bodes well for the kind of season these kids could have had,” said Gage. “Carson Trefz,here is coming as a sophomore, and he (set a personal record) in the pole vault and was sitting in a very good spot in the season.”
While coaches aren’t allowed to instruct their athletes during the break on what they can do for individual workouts, athletes can work out on their own and do their best to stay fit.
The Sac-Joaquin Section Masters is scheduled for May 22 and 23, and the CIF State meet is scheduled for May 29-30.
If the season isn’t allowed to move forth, Gage said that at some point, if the coronavirus threat is over and people are allowed to gather again, he’d like to hold a team banquet to do something to mark his athletes’ efforts.
“My plan right now is to salvage something before school gets out and do something of a banquet for them just because a lot of them have put in a lot of work and have gotten nothing out of it.”