Coming Back From COVID-19: Camdenton track and field looking to get back in gear
The “Coming Back From COVID-19” series will focus on spring sports programs at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon, Versailles, Macks Creek and Climax Springs who saw their seasons stripped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. The series will highlight how these programs handled those tough times and their return to action.
It has been a strange time for track and field in the state of Missouri.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly did its part to derail an entire season last spring and the conclusion of the one before it in 2019 took place in Washington for Camdenton and its fellow Class 4 competitors after a tornado ravaged central Missouri and the usual host site at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City just a few days prior.
For the Lakers, it is simply just nice to be back in action.
“We were able to add two summer track meets to help replace the season we missed last spring, so we were glad to bring some form of competition for our kids,” Camdenton boys track and field coach Nick Bruck remarked, looking back on the past year. “The environment for track and field limits the worry of COVID because everything is so spread out. So, we are hopeful to get in a full season.”
Bruck is expecting to have 60 Laker athletes competing this year and among them are a few seniors who were once sophomores the last time Camdenton engaged in a full season. Some of them are returning state medalists, too, and Bruck is looking forward to seeing them lead.
Parker Wormek is back after finishing third in the state 110-meter hurdles in 2019 along with two returning state medalists from a 4x100 relay team that captured eighth two years ago in Eli Griffin and Jadin Faulconer. Dane Lapine is also back, hoping to reach the state pole vaulting competition once again. Brayden Blackman, Peyton Kopisku, Joel Mason and Roberto Montez are among other seniors to watch out for.
“I would like to thank them for giving their time during a COVID year to compete right up to the end of their high school careers. Obviously, with the gap in last season it might limit some of the performances, but the competition is what we are looking forward to,” Bruck said.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has been tough for a girls program that has seen plenty of state success in recent years. The program that won a team state title in 2017, and finished third in 2018 returns just one state qualifier from the last true track and field season two years ago.
“Losing the entire season was tough because we lost some kids from our high school team who lost interest. Missing the season for our eighth grade class hit us extremely hard because they never really got a chance to compete and it hurt our freshmen numbers a lot,” said Camdenton girls track and field coach John McNabb who enters his 33rd season. “We did get to hold a couple of summer meets, which was good for our seniors and it also helped us build enthusiasm for this year’s eighth graders, who have really good numbers. It is great to be back and preparing for a season.”
The Lakers had one final remaining medalist from the girls 2017 state championship team and third place 2018 team who unfortunately never got the opportunity to test her mettle one last time at state. Clare Holmes now runs cross country at Missouri S&T in Rolla and other seniors who missed their final seasons were Megan Vest, Shelby Kurtz, Karli Wolfe and Aubree Enos.
“We miss all of that group and wish them well,” McNabb said.
The one state qualifier who is back is junior Elizabeth McMahon who represented the Lakers in the pole vault two years ago. Another top returner to look out for is junior Mya Hulett who qualified for sectionals in the triple jump as a freshman.
“It seems like our last real track meet was so long ago, but our kids are really excited to get started. It is also more difficult to figure out how the pieces are going to fit together,” McNabb noted. “We need to get a lot done every day and work with two classes instead of one who have never been to a high school track meet.”
McNabb said he expects to see some improvement this season in field events and he has been impressed with the group middle distance and long distance runners for the effort they have shown early on in the season. Once a stalwart of the program’s recent state success, it may take sprinters and relay teams a little time to catch up to speed.
“It will take us a few meets to figure out our lineup in those events. Most of the athletes are also young and inexperienced,” McNabb said. “Our coaching staff is excited to get started.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132