For senior track athletes, a lost season means ‘goals destroyed’Jun 22, 2020 11:18AM ● By Justin Adams
Due to the lost track season, Seth Robertson missed out on a chance to break school records and earn a scholarship to BYU. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Seth Robertson first learned about the possibility of school getting canceled in anatomy class. At the time he thought, “That’s not going to happen. Stuff like that never happens.”
Of course, we all know what happened next.
Herriman High track and field coach Jonathan Haag thought the precautionary closing of schools and canceling of spring sport competition would be temporary.
“There was so much stuff happening with the NBA shutting down, that I really figured it would get shut down, but I really didn’t think it was going to last this long,” Haag said. “I thought we would still have a shortened season.”
Just before schools closed, Haag had his team get-together and told them there was a good chance they would have to start training on their own, something that is much more difficult than training as a team.
“It’s just so much easier when you have your pack,” Haag said. “You have the social interaction before the workout. When you have the whole team together, they can’t help it. But when you’re all on your own, the motivation is just so much harder to come up with.”
“You need the people around you to push you and help motivate you. It’s a whole different game,” said Robertson, who lost his senior season because of the pandemic.
Robertson had high hopes entering this season. His top time from the mile run last year was 4:19, just four seconds slower than the school record. He set goals to break that record, and translate that improvement into a scholarship and a spot on BYU’s track team.
But without the guidance of coaches and the advantage of training with his teammates, Robertson said he just got slower and slower this spring. (Even if he had gotten faster, there were no UHSAA-sanctioned events in which he could have proved it.)
“It’s kind of like, goals destroyed,” he said.
Haag understands the frustrations and anger.
“It just makes me sick—four years of work and getting there, and then it’s out of their control,” he said about the multiple seniors whose chance to accomplish their goals was taken away from them. “We had multiple seniors who really put in lots of work and who had made huge jumps and were going to be contending to win state individual. I felt the worst because they had chances to break school records, to become state champs and then also get interest from colleges.”
While it definitely hurt to lose his senior season, Robertson said there may be some positives to come out of the experience, such as being forced to figure out how to draw inspiration and motivation from within himself instead of relying on coaches and teammates.
“Now that I have to run on my own, it’s different,” he said. “It’s helped me be more independent so I don’t always have to rely on the coach.”
That skill will prove important as Robertson heads on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he’ll try to keep in shape and stay ready for a place on Utah Valley University’s track team that will be waiting for him when he returns.
As for the Herriman Track team, Haag is a little worried about the future of the program, even if COVID-19 concerns go away by next spring.
“When next year’s season rolls around, will they have the motivation to come back and give it another go?” he said. “We, as coaches, will have to work hard to keep building those relationships with the kids.”