Practice+has+looked+slightly+different+this+year%2C+with+Covid-19+protocols+imposing+mask+mandates+even+while+running.

Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics

Practice has looked slightly different this year, with Covid-19 protocols imposing mask mandates even while running.

Women’s Track & Field

Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics
Practice has looked slightly different this year, with Covid-19 protocols imposing mask mandates even while running.

Few teams have faced the brunt of the pandemic more than the women’s track and field team, one of the largest squads at Middlebury. However, after the cancellation of the winter indoor season, the team is gearing up for their first formal competition since the winter of 2019–2020. 

There will be three meets this spring, beginning with a home meet against SUNY Potsdam and Union College on May 1. Then, the team will host Hamilton on May 8, and close their season at Williams on May 15. 

While there are usually more teams at each meet, state and NESCAC guidelines are limiting outdoor competition to 150 people. Thus, considering the significant roster sizes of typical track and field teams, each meet only has the capacity for two teams. 

There’s been no Covid-induced effect on team morale and motivation, according to head coach Martin Beatty ’84. The coach maintained that through it all, the team has remained resilient and has put 100% into every practice. 

“It’s a testament to the kids we have in the program,” Beatty explained. “They really just enjoy being together as a team, training together as a team, getting to know each other and doing the sport that they love.”

Beatty attributes the team’s impressive disposition to the upperclassmen leadership, including captain Kate Holly ’21. “Morale is definitely higher now,” Holly said. “The team has something to train for more immediately than next season.” 

There are a few other key athletes to keep an eye on this upcoming season. Senior sprinters Gretchen McGrath ’21, who holds the school outdoor record in the 4×100 (48.78) and co-holds the record in 4×400 (3:52.77), and Cassie Kearney ’22, who shares McGrath’s 4×400 record, have received multiple invitations to Nationals for cross-country running. Finally, Jaqueline Topping ’22 is a talented sprinter and jumper who carries high expectations. 

With their first meet in less than a month, track and field practice is in full swing. The season will look different, but the Panthers are preparing to dominate the NESCAC in classic fashion.