Tracking the Numbers

As UPrep students emerge from the pandemic, track and field registration soars

The 2022 track and field season stands in refreshing contrast to the COVID-19-impacted seasons from the years prior. In 2020, the track season was canceled entirely. The 2021 season, weighed down by mask regulations and an abbreviated schedule, saw a drop in the typical participation numbers. Head Coach Kayla Robertson attributes most of the low registration to COVID-19 concerns, and acknowledges the impact of a two-year hiatus from practicing. 

“A lot of people were still nervous and cautious around COVID, especially with the High School students not being vaccinated yet,” Robertson said. “You can’t quite get the same feel from a six week season versus an 11 week season. It [ the 2021 season] kind of fell apart in terms of having a traditional team, where there’s a lot of returners and people who’ve done it before.”

After missing the entirety of the 2020 season, a total of 21 boys and 10 girls registered, making a total team of 31 athletes. The low participation and lack of team morale heavily impacted last years’ team goals. With many still stuck to the confines of their home, current senior and team captain Adriana Hernandez used last year as an opportunity to go outside and be active. 

“It was more just show up and get a run in,” Hernandez said. “I wasn’t really race-oriented. I just wanted to participate.” 

Robertson’s priorities during the 2021 season also reflected the changes in the motivation of the athletes.

“Something we really noticed last year, whether it’s track or cross country, is that the sense of community is the most important. Just having that there for them every single day when the world was chaotic and hard was the focus instead of trying to compete. We didn’t have state championships or anything last spring,” Robertson said.

Bouncing back in resounding fashion, the 2022 track and field registration numbers soared. The 2022 season featured a team of 30 boys and 21 girls. This 51-player team has been the biggest since before 2003. Senior captain Asher Todd-Taraday has noticed the change in energy from last year due to the increased participation.

“It’s really cool. We have a bunch of people coming out for the first time this year. We have a bunch of seniors who are doing it for the first time,” Todd-Taraday said. “It’s just a cool new vibe to the team.”

Hernandez is also thrilled by the increase in participation, especially the large uptick in girls’ registration; the girls’ team has tripled in size over the last few seasons. 

“It’s a lot more girls than we’ve had. When I was a freshman, we had six or seven girls in total. Now it’s in the 20s, and that’s amazing,” Hernandez said. “Seeing more girls participate in track and just having more girls on our team, it’s been really nice getting to know everyone.”

“Having our success defined by just times alone isn’t good enough, so we want to make sure everyone is feeling that sense of accomplishment and pride.””

— Head Coach Kayla Robertson

With many newcomers on the team, Robertson’s priorities have shifted slightly. 

“Our focus is definitely learning about the sport, trying it out, having fun and building this sense of community through track and field,” Robertson said. “In the past, we really put a focus on times and place and personal records. Having our success defined by just times alone isn’t good enough, so we want to make sure everyone is feeling that sense of accomplishment and pride.”