After a smooth cross country club season, youth athletes are ready to hit the track.
The Valley Isle Track Club so far has scheduled three meets for Maui’s runners, jumpers and throwers starting Saturday, followed by others on April 17 and April 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Yamamoto Track & Field Facility inside War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku.
The running club, which is open to athletes 18 years old and younger, hosted a five-week cross country season earlier this year as a state registered nonprofit and a USA Track and Field Hawaii affiliate. With time running out for the Maui Interscholastic League to hold any scrimmage meets this school year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Valley Isle Track Club is stepping up.
“The kids, they need it. That’s the only reason why we’re doing it,” VITC president Jesse Henderson said Friday morning. “The kids have suffered through this pandemic and in my mind, more than the adults, and as adults, we can do this. It might be a little difficult and challenging, but because we can do this we have to.”
Henderson said that the track and field meets will follow the health and safety protocols outlined in the USATF sanctioning rules for low-risk sporting events, as well as the necessary guidelines imposed by the county and state to operate throughout the pandemic.
The running events will include 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter races, but with restrictions.
For the sprints, runners will run in every other lane. Distance events– 800 and 1,500– will be conducted as individual time trials with social distancing, where there is only one to two competitors on the track at a time.
Athletes are permitted to warm up outside the stadium but will only be allowed on the infield to continue an active warm-up 30 minutes prior to their scheduled event time.
“Basically, they come in, they race their race and get out,” Henderson said. “That way we can limit the number of kids that are in there.”
Due to short notice, the first meet may not have the discus area available. However, Henderson is hopeful that the long jump or the shot put area will be available in time for the first meet.
In the later weeks, Henderson said that he wants the track meets to include a “Maui’s Fastest 40-meter Dash” to open an opportunity for football or soccer players to get fully automatic times to send to college coaches.
He noted the amount of effort, energy and time the community of volunteers and coaches have put in to create a club track and field season.
“There have been a lot of people who have done a whole lot of stuff to help to get to this point and make this happen,” he said. “This is definitely not all me. There are a lot of other people doing a lot of great work to make this happen for the kids.”
The season, which may include more meets, permits pending, was also made possible by the Maui County Mayor’s Office and the Parks and Recreation Department, Henderson noted.
An anonymous donation of $2,000 to the Valley Isle Track Club helped the program purchase a timing system, Henderson said, which is “the key thing” to run the meets.
“We really appreciate everything that everyone has done to get to this point,” he said.
VITC is still fundraising to cover costs of sanctioning and permitting fees. To donate, visit gofund.me/0732a5ac.
* Dakota Grossman is at email@example.com.