Nowhere to run

When Seymour’s 4×100-meter relay team dropped the baton during a key 2019 race, it was a deflating moment. But all the underclassmen rallied their spirits with the thought that it wasn’t their last chance to do well.

“We said, ‘It’s not the end of the world,’” said sprinter Cayton Bailiff. “We had one more year.”

The irony of that mini-pep talk is stark these days with spring track cancelled because of the COVID-19 virus. In-class public school and all spring sports were shelved across Indiana.

The result of the international pandemic for a runner like Bailiff and other area track and field senior competitors is that they did not have one more year, as expected.

There were some affected in boys track at Seymour, Brownstown Central, Trinity Lutheran and Crothersville, but it was a fairly small crop of seniors across the board.

Besides making a mark in the relay, Bailiff hoped to improve on his best 100 time of 11.5 and his best 200-meter time of 24.9.

Those aspirations went down the drain just prior to spring break when the athletes were informed in a team meeting that they would have a season.

The news hit Bailiff hard.

“I was upset about it as everyone would be,” Bailiff said. “I kept telling friends how depressing it was.”

Bailiff, 18, plans to attend Ivy Tech in Columbus and study how to become a welder.

He only gradually came out of his funk and began throwing his energy into weight-lifting routines with makeshift equipment since there were no gyms he could visit. Bailiff was listing by using concrete blocks and a metal bar. He also employed a medicine ball, throwing it as far as he could.

“I run to it and chase it down, a mile at a time,” he said.

Just staying in shape in a general way.

Distance runner Luke Bane was really focused on running faster times this spring than he had done as a junior, so during his at-home lock-down he would emerge from the cocoon to take a run outdoors. He has kept that up, running every single day, but adding a eureka idea to his goal set.

Even though he did not have plans to compete on a team at Indiana University, Bane wanted to finish up in style with swift times. Now he is hoping he can translate his dedication and fitness into doing some road races.

“Once this all clears up, I want to do some mini-marathons,” Bane said.

Also, post-pandemic, he might like to try a triathlon, adding swimming and bicycling to his long-distance running base.

Since the track season was called off and it became widely known that the 2020 seniors were going to lose out, Bane said he has had messages of commiseration, less so from junior or sophomore teammates than from Seymour athletes who already went on to college after having normal senior-year experiences.

“It’s more people from my past that have already graduated,” Bane said. “They had more sympathy for it.”

In general, teachers, other students, parents and family members and friends are likely to be sympathetic to the seniors in their lives who have followed their desires to compete in sports during high school, only to lose out on the opportunity at the end.

Seymour senior Alex Calvo was prepping for his third year as a discus thrower when the Owls’ season was eliminated. He felt poised for a good throwing season and was looking forward to helping younger athletes on the team on technique.

“I figured before this was announced that with us out of school we wouldn’t come back,” Calvo said. “I was sad knowing my senior year was done. I never thought they would cut off school.”

Calvo played some football and soccer during high school, but was putting all of his energy into track and field at the end. He recorded a personal best throw of about 105 feet earlier, but even in the earliest of spring practices was easily eclipsing that distance, which held out promise for more once competition began.

“This year in practice, I was throwing 112,” Calvo said. “I thought I would do pretty well.”

Calvo has been able to keep working as a dietary aide during the cornonavirus shutdown of many businesses, and attempted to get some individual evening discus practice in at the Freeman Field Recreation Complex or elsewhere with mixed success.

He said he has tried to provide encouragement to some underclassmen teammates.

“I don’t want to focus all on me,” Calvo said.

The abrupt ending to attending classes, practicing and being unable to compete this spring has left him reflective.

“I wish I had not taken it for granted,” Calvo said.

Brownstown Central had just two seniors who planned to suit up for a senior year track season, Derek Thompson and Camden Wynn. Thompson was a sprinter and Wynn a thrower.

Wynn specialized in shot put and discus, his best shot toss being around 38 feet. Wynn came to the shot first, in middle school and it was his favorite event.

He said it was a bit shocking when he first heard the season was going to dropped. He learned the dramatic news through social media and then “teammates were spreading it around.” It was a modern-day version of a whispering campaign.

Wynn said he plans to attend Vincennes University and study criminal justice. He is exploring the idea of going out for the track team there.

“If I can, I definitely will,” Wynn said.

Wynn was still having difficulty processing the disappearance of the Brownstown season without looking ahead to a maybe season in Vincennes.

“It was gut-wrenching,” Wynn said of the track season that never was. “I(t was like losing a best friend. I’m starting to feel better, but it’s going to take some time.”


Brownstown: Derek Thompson, Camden Wynn

Crothersville: Taylor Tatlock

Seymour: Cayton Bailiff, Luke Bane, Alex Calvo, Michael Claycamp, Luke Plummer, Juan Silva

Trinity Lutheran: Jordan Peters, Nathan Thompson