INDOOR TRACK: What comes after the starting gun? Practical details remain to be worked out

INDOOR TRACK: What comes after the starting gun? Practical details remain to be worked out

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Indoor track got a shot in the arm Thursday when the CIAC announced dual meets would be allowed starting on March 1.

Now the question is how to go about doing that. Only a few Connecticut schools actually have indoor track facilities and the large multi-team events that are the hallmark of the sport still aren’t being permitted.

For now, though, coaches are heralding the good news.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s great,” Sheehan track coach Charles Farley said Friday. “Having a competition is good. I don’t know if the Floyd Little Athletic Center is available, but we are looking at some dual meets if we can.”

Prior to Thursday’s developments, Farley was trying to put together virtual meets in the school using the hallways and gym. Now, with Thursday’s news, he’s looking at his options.

In Southington, Blue Knights coach Dan Dachelet has been in talks with Norwich Free Academy, Bristol Central and Haddam-Killingworth.

“I don’t what’s going to happen,” Farley said. “I wish the snow would go away and we could do some things outside. There’s so many factors sitting out there, and then three weeks later we start the outdoor season.”

Farley said he is excited about a full spring season with state and conference meets. That was also part of the CIAC’s announcement on Thursday.

“They are trying to take care of the spring sports after being shut down last year,” Farley said. “It’s a positive thing for these kids. The group we have right now is working hard and it’s hard for them to do this with no goal in the end.

“We looked at this as a long preseason, but if we are going to have a few meets we have to change or focus or thinking,” Farley added. “We have to find out how this is going to work and, as we know, it could change tomorrow.”

Along with giving the green light to dual meets, the CIAC, acting in concordance with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, issued new COVID-19 guidance for indoor track. It’s in line with what’s being followed in the other winter sports. Runners, like basketball and hockey players, must wear masks. Jumpers, like gymnasts, will be allowed to remove their mask during their jumps, but must put the mask back on immediately after the jump is completed.

All other previously issued COVID protocols for indoor track remain in place.

Indoor teams have been training since January 19, when the CIAC Board of Control allowed the winter preseason to begin. When the weather has cooperated, many track teams have practiced outdoors.

Dachelet said he’s pleased his team will still be able to train outdoors with no masks when socially distanced. But he’s waiting for answers on rules regarding “indoor” meets that could be held outdoors when the weather improves.

Dachelet said some of his athletes may opt out if they have to compete outdoors with masks.

CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said talks on outdoor track and other spring sports are ongoing.

“We will follow up with guidance,” Lungarini said Friday. “We have shared with schools our relevant guidance for training for indoor track and that’s consistent with all of our indoor sports. The guidance for outdoor track will be updated and that will included recommendations including use of a mask.

“But training for indoor and outdoors has not changed.”

Lungarini said more information will also be forthcoming regarding indoor track meets being held outside. 

“At this point, the mitigating strategies were developed for indoor meets being held indoors. When they go outdoors, we will address those strategies at the time,” Lungarini said. “I hope people don’t get confused. These are two different seasons and two different meets. The strategies we have released are for indoor track being run indoors.”

Farley said the Titans will continue to adjust.

“As we get more guidance from the CIAC, it will be run by the AD and the principal,” Farley said. “Liability is part of what we are concerned about now, but at this point we are happy to be compete again.”

Whatever comes along, track teams will likely be able to adjust. They’ve got a lot of practice at it.

“We plan for outdoors and we could wake up in the morning and it could be snowing; you have to be flexible,” Farley said. “I would like to have a couple of competitions of some sort, and track coaches are the best at adjusting — believe me.”

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