Hurdles to pass for track and field

By LJ VP Lafiura – 1851 Staff

The sprinters train on Taylor Field ahead of their upcoming season.
Photo by LP VP Lafiura

When spring sports received clearance to resume playing, it felt like activities around campus were beginning to return to normal. No team has had an easy transition into play, but especially the track & field team. Between finding a venue to play and viable competition, this season will have many challenges.

“We have to understand that track and field is a very unique sport,” said head coach Michael McGrane.

One of the struggles track and field will face this spring is finding competition that will fit within the health and safety guidelines laid down by the state of Massachusetts and the university. According to Director of Athletics Kristy Walter, until recently, Massachusetts required that athletes quarantine upon returning to the state after leaving for an out-of-state game. This would have made away games with out-of-state programs an unrealistic possibility.

Another obstacle for finding opponents is the travel time limits imposed on the team by the school’s health and safety standards. As of March 30, athletic teams will only be allowed to travel 90 minutes away from the school for the competition.

“The time limit is about being on a bus, an enclosed place for an amount of time,” said Walter. “We’re limiting the hours [in contact]. We’re also limiting how many people can be on a bus.”

The athletic department continues to work in tandem with the school’s COVID-19 Task Force. These regulations are open to change as the season goes on, as they have all year. “Everything we’re doing is to minimize risk,” said Walter. “Every time we change something, we’re opening up to a little bit more risk.”

Once they can find opponents, the next hurdle the team must clear is finding a location for meets. Lasell does not have track and field facilities on campus, so the team must go elsewhere for competition. A problem that arises is each venue operates with a different set of regulations. Lasell frequently works with Regis College, a fellow Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) school that was not, until recently, open for competition.

“A lot of people are very restrictive about who comes to their campus and how they’re testing,” said Walter. “But Coach McGrane has been great about finding other opportunities.”

Thanks to McGrane and the athletic department, the schedule for the 2021 season is filling out. The first meet of the season will be on Friday, April 9 against Regis, followed by Sunday, April 18, against Suffolk. This is in addition to a new agreement to allow the team to practice at Brandeis University. “We’re working hard to get to some point of competition because that’s why we’ve been practicing since October,” McGrane said.

Although progress has been made since March 2020, there is still a long way to go because these situations have been difficult to navigate.

“We kept saying there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it sure did pay off,” said junior Co-captain, Nick Gird. “Coach often said better days ahead and it seems like we are entering those times.”

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