Track-and-field sprints toward a new start

By Julissa Sanchez; May 4, 2021

Jumping hurdles due to pandemic restrictions over the past year, Cal Poly Pomona’s track and field athletes are now allowed to return to campus from April 5 to May 7 for in-person training, and indoor training as of April 29.

Track and field is the first of the university’s athletic programs to return to campus with 46 student-athletes having participated so far in on-campus training sessions.

Chris Bradford, head coach of the cross country and track and field teams, revealed that the decision was reached due to the unique nature of track and field. Already an outdoor sport, the team members compete in multiple events on the track, including shot put throwing, discus throwing, high jump, long jump, distance running and sprinting. This makes maintaining the safety procedures put forth by the university and CCAA an easier feat.

With CPP allowing in-person practices for the track and field team, 46 student-athletes have returned to train with their teammates. (Courtesy of CPP Athletics Department)

“We can kind of control the group sizes a little bit more compared to some of the other teams that are all out at the same time and we can separate practices,” said Bradford.

Both Athletics Director Brian Swanson and Facilities & Events Coordinator Sarah Macias did not respond to interview requests by the Poly Post before deadline.

Upon hearing the news, both team members and coaches scrambled to have everything in place. Some student-athletes living in Northern California chose to return to Pomona just to take advantage of the opportunity of finally stepping foot onto campus again.

Analexis Glaude, sophomore sprinter, said she was not expecting to return to campus this year. Upon hearing that she would get a chance to practice on campus again, she dropped everything. Within a week, Glaude, along with her fellow teammates, completed a physical exam and COVID-19 test for their return.

“It feels really good and it’s something I really wanted to do; I live in Sacramento, California, and drove super far to be a part of this because that is how important this is,” said Glaude.

According to Bradford, student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, team members must complete a daily wellness check that consists of answering a questionnaire before they can practice. Some of the questions center around contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as the athletes’ personal symptoms, temperatures and reasons for going to campus.

During warmups, participants can remove their masks but must maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times. Once the actual training session begins, however, student-athletes and staff must wear a mask covering at all times.

As a secondary precaution, each team event holds a 10-person limit. To follow the university’s capacity restrictions, athletes participating in each event are designated a specific practice schedule detailing if they are to be weight training or event training on the outdoor track that day and at what time.

“Today, (Wednesday) our jumpers are at 8:30 this morning, our throwers are at 10 a.m., our distance runners are at 12 p.m., our sprints and hurdlers are at 1 p.m., so there is like a different group and even though they are not doing the same work out they are all more spread out,” explained Bradford.

Alejandro Sandoval-Guzman, senior shot put and discus thrower, chose to take advantage of the opportunity, given his short commute to the CPP campus from his home in Fontana.

Sandoval-Guzman explained that he prefers in-person practice over the virtual Zoom practices he participated in this past year. Dealing with poor internet connection and mobile devices overheating while trying to train are obstacles that he is glad to leave behind.

Moreover, Sandoval-Guzman missed the camaraderie with his fellow team members during practice and competition.

“Competing with my teammates honestly, having that bond it’s like an unbreakable bond I can’t really explain it but being with my teammates I missed being able to joke around and just be with them,” said Sandoval-Guzman.

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