Despite the impediments of social distancing, many members of the Suffield Academy Varsity Track and Field team showed great commitment to their sport this spring. They kept up with their training from home with the guidance and support of family, friends, and coaches. They also took advantage of the opportunity to participate in a series of virtual meets organized by the New England Preparatory School Track Association. For each virtual meet, athletes timed themselves in running events over the course of a three-day window and submitted their times online.
Suffield Academy runners competed in three of these virtual meets this spring, demonstrating impressive individual improvement and matching up very well against competitors from schools across New England. Between 50 and 100 runners from all schools submitted times for each meet. All 20 times submitted by six Suffield runners across the three meets were in the top two positions amongst runners from fellow Division II schools. Even compared to runners across all divisions, Suffield runners earned 11 first-place finishes.
Joe Rusnock ’21 trained thoroughly and consistently throughout the spring, leading to 1st-place results for all five of his submitted times. He achieved three 1st-place finishes in the 400m with a season best 51.99 and two 1st-place finishes in the 200m with a season best 23.3. Will Schmitz ’21 began his track training a bit later in the season but still achieved two 2nd-place finishes in the 400m, beaten only by Rusnock and finishing with a season best 52.6.
Distance event coach Donna Ness P’16 maintained close communication with the distance runners on the track team throughout the spring. She developed strong relationships with her athletes as they worked together to create individualized training plans. Firmly believing these athletes deserve recognition for their work this spring, she commented:
“On a solo mission, no excitement except their own, no real competitors in sight, the Suffield Academy track athletes’ accomplishments this spring were truly outstanding. In the winter months, Jenna Daly ’21 was already envisioning and building towards a strong track season. Determined to overcome the daily uncertainties and challenges in front of her, Jenna placed 1st in all her events, three 1500m and two 800m races over the three virtual meets. She wrapped up a stellar season with times of 5:03 in the 1500m and 2:29 in the 800m on May 23, her season best times.
Building off a strong swimming physical base, Nate Morrin ’23 gained running fitness quickly. Always eager and enthusiastic about the weekly speed workouts, Nate broke the five-minute barrier in the 1500m for the first time, setting a personal record 4:57.9 and placing 1st in Division II during the final meet. Jack Lynam ’22 joined the fray in the last meet due to an earlier season injury. His strong work ethic and training base propelled him to the top, placing 1st in the 3000m with a season best time 9:31.
Placing well in all three virtual meets, Garrett Mastella ’21 concluded spring track with a Division II, 1st-place time 2:26 in the 800m and a Division II, 2nd-place finish in the 1500m by only 0.1 second to Suffield’s Morrin, posting a season best time 4:58. Garrett has his sights set on challenging his personal records in the coming weeks.”
Many other Suffield track and field athletes kept up with their training from home even if they were not able to submit results in the virtual meets.
The accomplishments of these athletes are particularly impressive given the challenging circumstances of training and competition in this time of social distancing. Training was significantly more difficult for athletes to manage from home without the direct structure and support of teams and coaches, requiring a greater degree of individual motivation and perseverance. It was also more difficult for runners to attain strong racing times in the absence of competitors pushing them to the finish line. The efforts and achievements of this dedicated group in the face of such challenges are truly commendable. While the future of Suffield’s interscholastic athletics may be unpredictable at the moment, most of these athletes will be returning to lead a very formidable track team next spring.