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PRC’s track and field team hindered by suspension

Pearl River Central’s Blue Devils track and field team participated in its last meet on March 5 at Long Beach before sporting events were suspended.

The meet was the last taste of competition for the Blue Devils before the Mississippi High School Activities Association suspended all sporting activities until March 29 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus.

PRC doesn’t have a track for the athletes to practice on, so going to meets was an important way for the Blue Devils to gain experience prior to the start of regionals.

Head Coach Blake Rutherford said that not having a track makes it harder for his athletes to perfect their craft and the suspension of athletics will affect the athletes’ ability to gain competitive experience.

“Unfortunately, in the situation we’re in now, the biggest stepping stone to getting better was going to meets. With us not having a meet, and MHSAA making sure nobody participates in practices and meets, hinders progression,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he felt for his senior athletes who may not get a chance to compete on a track again depending on the MHSAA’s decision on when the season may resume.

Keeping in contact has been a priority to keep the athletes informed, but overall Rutherford said the best thing his athletes can do is try to stay positive.

“Commit to the process. As of now it’s on pause and it’s all about having a positive mindset and controlling what we can control,” Rutherford said.

However, Rutherford said situations like this teach people lessons athletes already learn through sports when it comes to empathy and acceptance.

Athletes may not be able to meet up in organized groups, but Rutherford has told them to try and maintain their normal routines while at home.

“This was supposed to be my seniors’ year. As sucky as this is and with training on hold I’m encouraging them to live as normal as possible and train on their own,” Rutherford said.

The team just finished the preparation phase of the season, which focused mostly on conditioning and finding what athletes fit best in each event.

PRC was scheduled to have at least one meet a week to continue to give the athletes some competitive experience before elimination meets started taking place.

Now that there aren’t any meets taking place in the near future, Rutherford said he’s hoping his athletes maintain the work ethic they had in the early portion of the season during the suspension.

“We were unfortunately blindsided (by the suspension). I told them to continue to train the way we have the past six weeks in hopes we have an ending to this season other than this,” Rutherford said.