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Picayune track trying to keep practices normal while staying safe

The Picayune Maroon Tide track program has tried to maintain some sense of normalcy with offseason practices while adhering to multiple COVID-19 guidelines.

Practices take place outside, so athletes maintain social distancing in order to allow the runners to go through conditioning drills without a mask impeding them.

Tryouts for any athletes who want to join the team will take place shortly after students return from Christmas break, then Seth Hayden will up the intensity Feb. 1 to try and get his athletes in shape.

While track is a sport that includes a variety of short races, Hayden said the frequency of the events during a meet requires athletes to be well conditioned, even if they are only doing sprints.

“The focus is to get the kids in shape. You might not think that when you’re running a sprint you have to be in great shape, but when you have to do four events through the course of the day and have to go full speed, it can be pretty exhausting,” Hayden said.

Athletes have gotten used to COVID-19 restrictions and they’ve become part of the routine of high school sports.

Hayden said the program will try to keep things as familiar as possible next semester as the program prepares for the 2021 season even with the protocols in place.

“As far as Picayune, I think we’ll go through a traditional spring semester.”

“Hopefully none of the kids will get quarantined and then we’ll just take it one day at a time to continue to get the kids better,” Hayden said.

Hayden said getting shut down last year because of COVID-19 has changed the way athletes approach the sport.

Last year’s cancellation of athletics provides another avenue of inspiration and motivation coaches can harness to help athletes improve.

“We try to preach it to our kids to practice and play like it’ll be your last, especially with the pandemic and injuries as well. As coaches we can use it to push kids harder. You can tell them, ‘I know you’re tired and sore, but you have to push through that final 100 meters.’ Dealing with the pandemic adds that extra incentive,” Hayden said.

The majority of track athletes also participate in other sports, so their work with Hayden will translate to other competitions.

It’s all about speed on the track, but Hayden knows any improvements his athletes see during the season will carry over to other athletic events.

“To see them get faster will help them improve in other sports. That’s what we’re about is improving overall success at Picayune High School, so that’s our goal,” Hayden said.

The first meet of the year will take place Feb. 25 with Picayune playing host to several other schools.

Hayden said the meet won’t be super competitive, but will instead provide athletes with an easy first track experience before the competitive meets begin.

“It’s a really good way for the kids to knock that dust off coming off Christmas break and getting back into the rhythm of things,” Hayden said.