Back on track: Indoor competition resumes this season

Sophomore+Giovanni+Sebastianelli+flys+through+the+600+meter+at+a+meet+located+at+Boston+University.+%E2%80%9CI+am+so+glad+we+are+starting+track+meets+again+because+after+training%2C+its+nice+to+compete+against+other+athletes%2C%E2%80%9D+senior+captain+Lauren+Medeiros+said.+Sebastianelli+was+able+to+obtain+a+new+personal+record+during+this+race%2C+along+with+many+of+his+teammates.+This+was+Waylands+first+meet+of+the+season.

Credit: Courtesy of Aaron Frutman

Sophomore Giovanni Sebastianelli flys through the 600 meter at a meet located at Boston University. “I am so glad we are starting track meets again because after training, it’s nice to compete against other athletes,” senior captain Lauren Medeiros said. Sebastianelli was able to obtain a new personal record during this race, along with many of his teammates. This was Wayland’s first meet of the season.

After a year of running with no finish line in sight, members of the Wayland indoor track team are excited to get this year’s season off to the races.

The indoor track team was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic last season. There were few meets, most of which were held virtually, and practices were held outdoors in the midst of winter. Since many restrictions are now lifted, the team anticipates a new season with many fresh faces.

“I’m excited because the team is a great group of runners, and I look forward to supporting them and cheering them on,” senior captain Lauren Medeiros said.

There are 26 athletes on the team this season with six team captains, three of which are seniors. Due to this smaller than normal size, the team will not be participating in certain events. They have a majority of underclassmen, with a number of sophomores who have never experienced a normal track meet.

“Although it’s a young team, there is a ton of potential, room to grow and fast runners,” Medeiros said.

Last year, there were only three meets which were held virtually. This meant that the runners recorded their times and submitted them to officials who then compared the times to the towns they were competing against. There was also one in-person, outdoor duel at Weston. This year, meets will be held in person, competing against several schools.

“I am so glad we are starting track meets again because after training, it’s nice to compete against other athletes,” Medeiros said.

Practices were held outdoors last year, using the plowed junior parking lot as their track. In layers of clothes, the team focused on fitness and mobility rather than individual indoor track events like they would normally. When it rained, snowed or when the temperature was less than optimal, practice was canceled. These practices took a toll on the athletes, making it difficult for them to sustain a strong interest to exceed and improve in the sport.

“It was difficult maintaining a high level of participation,” coach Shelly Fraser said. “Although, the spirit of the athletes was very positive and thankful that they were able to do something.”

With the ability to now train indoors and use the indoor track, the team has been working hard. Practices include circuit runs, distance running and focus on specialized events including relays, shot put, high jump and long jump. Sprinters and distance athletes work on form, acceleration and timing while the long distance runners go on a 40 minute run.

Wayland High School’s indoor track members prepare for their next meet. Practices include circuit runs, distance running and focus on specialized events. Wearing face masks is very important and necessary at practices as the COVID-19 numbers continue to grow. (Credit: Delia Caulfield)

“Practices look like pre-covid times, but with masks,” head coach Allison LaClaire
said. “We are enjoying access to our outdoor track for warmer days which is a bonus.”

Masks are also required at meets as the meets are comprised of 11 Massachusetts school teams confined in an indoor arena.

“I’m a little worried about meets just because they’re indoors, and we have to wear masks,” sophomore Anika Frutman said. “It’s not going to be easy on anyone, and it’s a disadvantage for everyone.”

As the COVID-19 infectious rates increase, the concern grows. Families are conflicted whether or not to allow their child to compete in a congested area. As a result, the coaches felt that the best decision was to have the athletes’ families decide whether or not they wish to have their child participate and attend the meets.

“It is a unique time, and right now we have to be creative in the way we coach,” Fraser said. “All we can do as coaches is make sure we do our best to enforce social distancing and keep our masks on. The physical and mental well-being of our athletes far outweighs a need to win at all costs.”

Despite these disadvantages, the team is thrilled to train, compete and grow.

“It’s a very special feeling knowing everyone on your team wants to see you succeed and supports you no matter what the outcome may be,” Medeiros said.