South Lewis’ Hannah Ielfield, right, and Lexi Bernard race the 1,500-meter run during the Frontier League track and field championships last season at Indian River Central School. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

High school track and field athletes are stuck on the starting line as they wait for their season to begin.

Area runners, jumpers and throwers are waiting to see if they’ll have a spring season while they ride out the coronavirus outbreak. Training was supposed to start March 16, but school closures halted the start of practices. Athletes in Jefferson, Lewis are in a holding pattern until April 14 and St. Lawrence County until April 17.

But the break hasn’t altered some runners’ preparations.

“I’ve been running a lot and doing the same thing that I would normally would be doing,” said South Lewis junior Hannah Ielfield on how she’s passing the time.

Running is one of the simpler sports when it comes to training because there’s little to no equipment needed. However, throwers and others need items to keep active. And coaches have worked to get their athletes equipped.

“I made sure to get out the equipment they needed,” Falcons coach Jack Bernard said,

Each athlete also received a preseason training packet that lays out what exercises are needed for runners, hurdlers, jumpers and throwers. Athletes that use strength as a main attribute for their chosen event will have to get creative because they may not have access to large amounts of weight needed to build muscle.

“The lifting (of large amounts of weight) can’t happen, so they have to use what they have at home,” Bernard said.

Ielfield has been using the off-time to train with her sister, Hali, who is on the track team at Manhattan College. She said that training with her older sibling already has been paying dividends,

“I’ve definitely gotten faster training with her,” Ielfield said.

The COVID-19 outbreak has already interrupted the end of the indoor track season as Ielfield and Lexi Bernard were slated to compete at the New Balance Indoor Nationals on March 13-15 at New Balance Track and Field Center at The Armory in New York City. The Falcons duo was slated to go down March 12, but Ielfield saw a notice on the event’s web site that the meet wasn’t going to happen.

“It was so sad, but I understand (why they canceled),” Ielfield said. “I was having a good season for indoor.”

The indoor season is often used by South Lewis, South Jefferson and the other Section 10 teams to stay in shape for the outdoor season. Bernard said it’s hard to go from one season and then have a prolonged break heading into the outdoor season. However, he’s confident that many of his athletes are dedicated to staying in shape.

“I know there’s kids out there working six days a week,” Bernard said. “I trust a lot of these kids.”

Ielfield was looking forward to competing in the steeplechase this season. She’s also hoping that there will be outdoor national meets like the New Balance Outdoor Nationals from June 18-21 in Greensboro, N.C,

“I’m just going to keep hoping there is a season this year,” Ielfield said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Reporter/Agate Person

A lifelong resident of Northern New York. Dan graduated from Lyme Central School and attended SUNY Oswego. He's worked in all forms of media, including radio and print. Dan covers hockey, wrestling, track and field, tennis, volleyball and golf.

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