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Much like everything in the country right now, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced on Friday, March 13 that all spring sports competitions would be cancelled for the remainder of the semester. This took a huge toll on the Slippery Rock University track and field team as they had 25 senior members.
While most athletes were able to compete in some fashion during the indoor season, transitioning to outdoors allows for some new events, such as hammer throw, and adaptations to things like the increased distance on the track.
A few seniors were able to discuss how losing their senior season felt and the moments leading up to that.
Katie Proffit, a distance runner who was looking forward to getting outside and running in the 10,000 meter, notes how the season is something that is most likely no longer going to happen.
“I wanted to, with the outdoor season, I was hoping to move on to 10,000 meters,” Proffit said. “I did that once last year and I was hoping to improve upon that this year.”
Proffit knew COVID-19 was going to impact her outdoor season somehow, but she thought it might just be running without spectators.
“It just became more official when we realized we weren’t going to get to go back to school,” Proffit said.
Proffit will be returning to The Rock this fall as she’ll be joining the physical therapy program for graduate school, which could possibly allow her to run again for Slippery Rock.
“Since they’re offering back eligibility for spring season and I’ll be here next year, I plan on trying to at least compete next year,” Proffit said. “I’ll make my best effort because if I’m getting eligibility back I might as well try.”
Another senior, Abby Way, a hammer thrower, lost her chance as she waited and trained all year for it.
“Hammer’s something I had such big hopes and dreams for,” Way said. “Every day for the past year it was eating clean and having a good diet and being active. Something just to better myself every single day in the event so I would be ready for my senior year.”
Way added that it was awesome that the women’s team won the indoor PSAC Championship, but that nobody realized what was coming and that it was going to be their final time competing.
Way also said she knew that after the university announced that classes would probably be online after March 30, that her outdoor season was going to be affected.
“We all knew something was coming as soon as the university put up something saying that classes would be online,” Way said. “That enough is a big enough change [and if] you take a step back and no one is allowed on campus, then there is going to be something that is happening that is going to affect athletics.”
Way is currently student teaching and said it’s difficult not knowing when she’ll be able to return to Slippery Rock as she lives six hours away.
“I live six hours away from Slippery Rock so I have to focus and really plan,” Way said.
“When do I come back? When can I come back? I think the hardest part is coming home for spring break and realizing we’re not going back.”
Way isn’t letting COVID-19 get in the way of her training, in hope that in May she might get the chance to participate in some sort of exhibition or inner-squad meet.
“We were kind of hoping once this is all over if there is the possibility to return to campus, kind of have an inner-squad meet for the track team,” Way said. “So I’m still doing all of those things [including lifting and training] and working towards the goals that I had to break the school record and become an all-American.”
400-meter hurdles runner Gunner Coleman sat out most of his indoor season as he had a partial hamstring tear. During the week of the indoor championships, he almost made the decision to run but wanted to save himself for outdoor.
“I’m basically at Slippery Rock to run outdoor, so indoor is just a way to stay in shape,” Coleman said.
Over spring break, Coleman was with his team preparing for their track meeting in Myrtle Beach. That’s when he learned of another school that had canceled their track season and he started to realize the same might happen to Slippery Rock.
“That was when it first hit us,” Coleman said. “The NBA canceling and all that, we didn’t really pay too much attention to. When they [another school] told us they were cancelling, it kind of hit and we were like, ‘oh shoot, this is getting pretty serious.'”
Next year, Coleman said he is going to attend graduate school and is hoping to get to run if that one year of eligibility is granted back.
“I definitely think I will. As far as I’m concerned, doing the 400 hurdles outdoors, I’ve been training since August for it,” Coleman said. “I think if it presents itself I’ll probably definitely run, I don’t see why not.”
Kacey Raible said she felt the women’s team was in a really good spot after winning the PSAC championship indoor as they were looking to transition to outdoor.
“Being able to win that title kind of put us in a really good spot for going into outdoor,” Raible said. “We knew what we had and we tend to get better as the season moves outdoor.”
Raible didn’t attend the team spring break trip to Myrtle Beach as she is student teaching. She started hearing rumors and thought maybe she’d lose a few races rather than the whole season.
“I was with a lot of my teammates and I was like, ‘Wow, this is actually happening,'” Raible said. “I didn’t hit me at first until a few days after where I was like, my runs don’t matter anymore, my workouts almost don’t matter. I almost didn’t believe it at first kind of thing.”
Raible said everything came at a weird time, as she was ending her first placement for her student teaching position on Friday, March 13 and transitioning to another school on Monday, March 16.
“I was expecting on Monday to go into a new classroom with new students and I didn’t even get to do that, it’s now online,” Raible said. “I’m working with K-2 learning support so I’ve been trying to adjust with that and really testing my limits with technology.”
Looking forward, Raible said she is still keeping in shape and hasn’t stopped running.
“I plan in the future and would love, wherever I find a job, to be a coach in track and field or cross country,” Raible said.
Raible said to close out that she has a year in cross country and if she’s given back her eligibility for outdoor track, she technically has a full year of competing left, however, she’s okay with letting it go and calling it a career, maybe.
“So I don’t think just cause I already had my mindset on finding future employment and I was okay with being done with cross country,” Raible said. “I don’t believe so, not at the moment, but who knows, I might change my mind abruptly.”
Kyle Edgar made a tough decision deciding to run in the PSAC championships while still recovering from a hamstring injury. Edgar was extremely thankful for that as it was his final race for The Rock.
“I ran at PSACs but it was more of a just I want to finish the race just because I couldn’t not run my senior seasons,” Edgar said. “Looking back now, I’m even more thankful for it because it was my last race my senior season.”
Edgar said that early in spring break he spoke with one of his coaches on his thoughts of what might happen to the season.
“Our coach said, either that weekend down in South Carolina or the following weekend at West Virginia either one those might be our only shot to run,” Edgar said. “I think that was the first time it really sunk in and that our season might get cut short.”
Edgar said he is attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina which is a high-level athletic school but would be interested in competing as the 400-hurdles is an oddball event.
“I could potentially run there, I would love to,” Edgar said. “I enjoy running track. It’s not just something I do to pass the time, getting with everybody and doing the workouts are something I enjoy. I don’t know, but I love to.”
Every track senior is going on to do something different in their lives and whether they return to Slippery Rock or another university to try and use that possible eligibility, they were apart of a team that had their season ended abruptly.
The Rocket will be continuing to cover any updates on spring sports eligibility being returned to any athlete of the 2020 season.