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PRC track trying to attract more athletes

Pearl River Central’s track and field team lost out on a major portion of last year’s season, so Speed Coach Blake Rutherford is hoping to use this year as a building block.

PRC only got to compete in three of the team’s eight originally scheduled meets last year before COVID-19 entered the fray and shut everything down.

Athletes have come to realize what a privilege it is to compete at the high school level, and Rutherford said he’s hoping athletes who previously wouldn’t join the team are now more inclined to come out following last year’s disappointing early end.

“I think the athletes will be more appreciative and attentive and alert to the fact that, who’s to say their season can’t be taken away from them? They’ve never been in a pandemic before this year and in their wildest dreams never thought in the middle of the season the season would drop off the cliff and not be made up,” Rutherford said.

The current plan is for athletes to use the first two weeks of the upcoming semester to get their physicals and paperwork done before starting tryouts on Jan. 18.

Practices will then begin in earnest Jan. 25 in preparation for the team’s first meet in mid-February.

Rutherford said a big emphasis heading into the 2021 season will be recruiting athletes from other sports to compete with the track team in the spring.

“My word this season is going to be culture. I’m going to really try to change our culture and try to get athletes of different sports to come out for track. I think while we don’t have that right now, it’s because certain things haven’t been established just yet. Not many people know about the opportunity that comes with track,” Rutherford said.

Athletes from soccer, cross country, basketball, football or any other sport offered at PRC are welcome to join the track team and begin building towards a better future.

However, the team’s goals aren’t just focused on the long term.

Rutherford doesn’t want just one or two athletes to make it beyond district competition this year.

Instead, he would like to see several athletes from multiple events travel to the state competition.

“Expectations wise, we have some kids that can make it to district and beyond, but I want that to become more of a norm. The season starts Feb. 22 and district ends April 12, but I want us to get deep into the school year and go beyond April 12,” Rutherford said.