Trout season opened back on April 1, but Section II girls’ track and field coordinator Mark Therrien is still waiting for some bites.
He hasn’t been sitting in a boat, though, but at his computer, and the elusive quarry are sites for the fragmented Section II track and field championship meet schedule he has assembled to run from June 5 to June 10.
It’s just one of many challenges faced by schools, coaches and track officials as they attempt to expand the season into as many larger invitational-type meets as is feasible under the ongoing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as events and venues continue to open up.
On Saturday, May 15, Gloversville High will host the traditional Bi-County Meet that draws teams from Fulton and Montgomery counties, but with a pared-down roster of schools from what traditionally competes there.
The same day, Schenectady High will host the “Schenisky Invitational,” the brainchild of Niskayuna coach Jason DeRocco that will serve as half of a split Suburban Council meet, with Guilderland hosting the other half on May 15.
So there will be some meets outside of league duals, but the patchwork nature of the big-meet schedule extends to Therrien’s task of finding schools willing to host the 17 separate sectional meets that will be split up by school size, gender and events.
“I’ve got the fishing line in the water, it’s just a matter of reeling somebody in,” Therrien said.
“I know my team parents are annoyed that I don’t have a set schedule, but this thing is so fluid,” Schenectady coach Joe Bennett said. “It’s week-to-week.”
This much we do know: the Bi-County Meet and the split Suburban meet are a go for May 15, and the calendar for sectionals has been neatly assembled and organized by Therrien on a Word document with color coding representing five groups based on enrollment.
Also, the CBA-La Salle invitational has been canceled, spots on the calendar for Niskayuna’s Warrior Classic and relay meet have already passed and big events like the Eddy Meet aren’t going to happen.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any major meets,” Therrien said. “There are schools, I believe, in Section II that are going outside the section to bigger meets, but within Section II, there isn’t anybody holding big meets.”
The Suburban split meet will at least give many of the top athletes in Section II a chance for better depth of competition than a dual meet can offer.
The “Schenisky” half will include Schenectady, Niskayuna, Albany, Bethlehem, Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, CBA and Saratoga Springs, and Guilderland will host Averill Park, Colonie, Columbia, Shaker, Shenendehowa and Troy.
The girls will compete at 8:45 a.m. at each site, the boys are scheduled for 2 p.m., and each school is limited to bringing 30 athletes to keep the numbers manageable for health and safety purposes.
“The whole principle is to up the competition for the kids who need it,” Bennett said.
Fonda-Fultonville, Amsterdam, Gloversville, Johnstown and Broadalbin-Perth will compete in the Bi-County Meet, while Mayfield/Northville, Canajoharie and Fort Plain/OESJ have opted out.
“At one point, that was the only meet that was going to include more than two teams,” Therrien said.
No spectators will be allowed at Gloversville for the Bi-County, which will be co-ed, while the Suburban athletes will each be given two spectator passes.
For sectionals, each of the five Groups will be split into three meets, boys’ and girls’ running events, and co-ed field events. There will be two separate meets split by gender for pentathletes and steeplechasers.
Recently, Mohonasen stepped forward to host all three of the Group 2 meets, and Taconic Hills will host all three for Group 3.
Schools have shown interest in hosting many of the other sectional meets, but Therrien is still waiting for confirmation.
“I can’t nail any other ones down,” he said. “I’ve got some feelers out, that I’m talking to people, and they’ve just got to convince their administrators to be comfortable with the whole idea.
“It’s very possible that some school might say they can do the running, but not the field events, so I’ve got to do the field events somewhere else. I don’t have a problem with that, I just need a definite answer. The only group that we’re kind of hanging out to dry on that nobody seems to be stepping up for is Group 4. I haven’t heard a thing from anybody there.”