MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In a normal spring sports season, the Bridgeport track and field teams would be preparing for their first home meet of the season this weekend. This year, track and all spring sports are halted until at least April 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridgeport boys track head coach Jon Griffith is entering his 32nd season leading the Indians. After going through about two weeks of preseason practice, the team is waiting for word when they can get back to work.
“This has been very odd,” Griffith said. “It is hard to not do something that you love and something that you have been doing for a huge part of your life. It is strange not to be down there.”
In their final year of Class AA competition before moving up to Class AAA next year, both Indian track teams looked to compete for state championships. Last year, the BHS girls finished second, just three points behind Winfield. The boys and girls swept teams titles in 2018.
“The girls look very strong as they usually do. Emilee Yurish does a great job heading up the girls team. They have some outstanding individuals and look to be very competitive in the Class AA state competition this year.
“The boys team was shaping up to be our best team in a couple years. We had a lot of new kids out, including some outstanding looking freshmen along with the kids we have back. It is awful to say but it looked like we were going to be one of the teams to beat for sure. Maybe we will still get that chance.”
Like other spring sports, coaches are encouraging their athletes to work out individually while practices are suspended. That is easier for runners and throwers than jumpers.
“The nice thing about track and field is that the majority of it is about speed, strength and explosiveness, which carries over to all sports,” Griffith said. “We have given things to work on for speed for sprinters and jumpers, strength for the throwers and of course endurance for the distance runners. We have tried to tailor it to each group. But for pole vault, other than getting faster and stronger, there’s not a whole lot of practice we can do.”
With large rosters, early-season meets are often used to give younger athletes a chance to showcase their skills in a competitive situation. As of now, it appears the Indians will lose at least half of their regular season schedule.
“Some of our early meets that we attend are meets that we can run a lot of kids at, not just the standard three per event that you see at the big invitationals. Without having those meets and having those practices it is going to be tough. So if they do bring us back with a shortened season, that really compresses things. We are blessed to have a record number of kids out this year. We were at 63 boys and 55 girls. It is a lot of kids to sort through data of.”
Griffith remains optimistic that a portion of the season can still be salvaged. Regional competitions are set for the week of May 12 and the state meet is scheduled for May 22-23 in Charleston.
“I am always hopeful. I always plan for every contingency. We have plans in place if we come back April 10. We have plans in place if we come back May 12. If we have any opportunity to come back, our athletes and coaches will be ready to go.”