TRACK3

Warren County’s D.J. Staton leads the pack during the boys' 1,600-meter run at the Ram Country Invitational in Strasburg last season.

Sports can often be the source of lessons learned that can be applied to all aspects of life. For a few of Warren County’s track and field seniors, the lack of a spring season this year is a reminder of the trials life sometimes throws your way. Kyra Robinson said recently that her experience dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the high school spring sports season, has taught her to take every opportunity afforded to her. She didn’t participate in the high jump during the indoor track and field season in the winter, she noted because she figured she’d get the chance to do plenty of that during her final outdoor season. Kiersten Tanner said much the same thing of the lessons to be gleaned from the current situation. She said every track and field athlete should run each meet as if it’s their last, and attack every practice like you’ll never be able to run again. “That last day of (outdoor track) practice, I might not see some of those people for maybe the rest of my life,” Tanner said. “I wish I could go back and treat it like it was my last. I ran cross (country) and I ran states and I definitely ran it like it was my last, but I always had that positive outlook: I still had track to look forward to. But this year I didn’t have track to look forward to, so it is a learning experience, to never say ‘I still have this meet’ or ‘I still have this practice to look forward to’ because you really never know what’s going to happen or what’s going to come next.” Fortunately for Robinson and Tanner – who are part of a senior group that includes Kylie Burnworth, Chelsey Cross, Shai Geiger, Hannah Kekel, Sierra Sharp, Kyra Treutlein, D.J. Staton and Isaiah Wilt – they still have their past seasons spent with Warren County’s track program to look back on. Tanner, one of three four-year members of the program on the girls’ side alongside Burnworth and Treutlein, said annual meets like Strasburg’s Ram Country Invitational and the Handley Invitational were always her favorite outdoor competitions. She also recalled dancing on the field, yelling out team chants and the team’s coaches pushing their athletes in practice to make the cut for the next invitational. “Just having fun was my No. 1,” Tanner said, “and the positivity was my No. 1.” Robinson, a transfer from cross-town rival Skyline and a three-year member of Warren County’s track team, remembered being an outsider to the program initially but said she was welcomed quickly and felt “at home” on her new team. In an email, Robinson stated that she has a lot of fond memories from her time at Warren County, the most prominent being the 2018 Class 3 outdoor state championships. In that meet, Robinson was part of the Wildcats’ girls 4x100-meter relay team that earned an all-state medal with an eighth-place finish. She recalled the relay team being sloppy with their handoffs during the race and approaching then-head coach Joseph Owens, who told them they were going to be “fine” when it came to the race’s final results. “They called our name out for all-state about 20 minutes later and we all started jumping up and down, even Owens, with joy,” Robinson wrote. “It was really nice to go out with a bang, especially since the foreign-exchange student (Sarah Schulte-Bunert) was on the 4x1.” First-year head coach Mike Tanner, who previously served as an assistant coach for Warren County’s track team, said the Wildcats’ girls 4x800 relay team, which included Kiersten Tanner and Treutlein, had qualified for the state meet in each of the past three seasons and was looking to make it four in a row this spring. Mike Tanner added that Staton had high aspirations on the boys’ side this spring and was chasing an all-state medal in the 3,200-meter race. Staton, Tanner said, took on more of a mentorship role for his younger teammates this school year, one that became about more than accolades and races during the cross country and indoor track seasons. “He was thinking about the program a little bit, thinking about the guys below him and I kind of respect that. I like that,” Mike Tanner said of Staton, who has signed with Division I South Carolina Upstate. “He did that over the past several months here. I think that shows some good leadership.” Wilt is the only other senior on Warren County’s boys track and field team this spring, and Mike Tanner said Wilt – a former soccer player for the Wildcats – only just started participating in track during the 2019-20 indoor season and “fell in love with it.” “Him and Chelsey Cross, they were buddies, they kind of came from other sports and it was good to see that enthusiasm for the sport,” Mike Tanner said. “Success is all relative. These people probably weren’t gonna be all-state. They weren’t looking to be tops in the region or anything like that, but their love for the sport – and they were really excited for this spring, to see what they could do personally, having your personal goals there, whether you can improve. Isaiah’s one of them who improved a lot over indoor track and it was gonna be exciting to see what he could do in outdoor because he was so excited and motivated for it.” Asked about the bond shared by Warren County’s track and field seniors, Robinson called them “goofballs.” “We’re always laughing and having fun at practices and meets together,” Robinson wrote. “We really built a connection the track team probably hasn’t seen in a while. I’m really gonna miss the energy they brought to the track.” Kiersten Tanner said she was particularly close with Burnworth. “She has been my best friend since Day 1,” Tanner said. “Our dads are best friends, so I’ve known her my whole life and I’ve ran with her since I could start running. It was good to finish with her, definitely.” Mike Tanner said he hopes that all of Warren County’s track and field athletes, whether they’re coming back next year or moving on to college, come back hungrier after missing the 2020 season. Robinson, who has signed with Division III Bridgewater College, intends to do that. “In college I’m going to take every opportunity and chance I get to do something great,” she wrote.

– Contact Brad Fauber at bfauber@nvdaily.com

– Contact Brad Fauber at bfauber@nvdaily.com