MANHATTAN — The Manhattan Tigers track and field team had a successful 2019 season, which included one state championship runner. Now, after overcoming the 2020 COVID hurdle, the Tigers are ready to get back and compete again.
“It is awesome to be back and I can’t believe this is the best weather to ever start a season," said head coach John Sillitti. "It’s going to be two years since we had a meet and it almost feels like starting over.”
In 2019, Manhattan's boys placed second at state. Now-senior Wyatt Barney was the state champion in the 800-meter run when he was then just a sophomore.
“After that, just the whole team was stoked," Barney said. "I was stoked to be where I was and I was really excited looking towards the 2020 season.”
As we all know, 2020 didn’t happen because of COVID-19.
“Track and field getting canceled was hard -- 2020 itself, the whole season, the whole school year was hard,” said Barney.
For some athletes like Barney, staying on track and training was a tough thing to do, even for a state champ.
“Once we got shut down, I stayed with my training for a couple weeks and then everything got hard mentally to keep pushing through it with the state that we were in, the state that the nation was in," he said. "Everything got really hard to continue training. I think we saw across the board. All my friends we kind of fizzled out.”
But for others, like cross country state champ Hallie Hemenway, it was not.
“I kept up with my training, I didn’t really change anything, I still went out and ran six to seven days a week,” said Hemenway, a senior.
Her sights are set on two track and field school records during her senior season.
"The mile (school record) is a 5:10 so I’m trying to break that. The two-mile is 11:46, 11:49, something like that, so I’m going to try and take that one down as well,” said Hemenway.
Most of all for Sillitti, now that he has his team back he needs to get the team to mesh together.
“The important thing for me early on is establishing team culture, and we’re really fortunate that we have some seniors who are helping with that,” he said.