Track and Field Team Holds Tryouts for First Time


Sam Fisher

The long distance runners tried out at Legacy Park from Jan 11th to Jan 15th.

Decatur High School Track and Field will look different this year due to safety procedures put in place for COVID-19. There will be a team almost a third of the size of last year’s, a downgraded location, and many compromises made.

Unlike any year before, there will be tryouts to make the team this spring. The necessity of a smaller team is not only a result of COVID-19 social distancing protocols but because of the sheer number of students who try-out. According to head coach Mary Souther, there were upwards of 120 athletes on the team in 2020. 

“Last year the team was crazy big; we had a shocking amount of people come out, which is great, but there’s only a limited amount of people you can actually deal with on the track,” Souther said, “We knew last spring that we were going to have to do tryouts this year. Since COVID has happened, we will probably have to cut a few more people than we would normally have liked to.”

For tryouts, the coaches will keep the athletes separate by events to minimize contact and proximity. Distance runners tried out at Legacy Park on the week of Jan. 11th, and sprinters while field athletes will try out at Agnes Scott during the week of Jan. 18th.

The team will also face the challenge of practicing on a new track.

I think the biggest challenge is going to be that we’re practicing at Agnes Scott because it’s not a complete track. It doesn’t have facilities for the throwers to practice or the jumpers,” Souther said.

The athletes do warm-up stretches at a distance from one another to minimize proximity. Photo by Sam Fisher.

The athletes usually ride together in buses to their practices at Avondale Stadium, but Dekalb isn’t renting their facilities to outside schools this year due to COVID and “…it’s just not safe to cram everybody on a bus right now,” Souther said. 

“The Agnes Scott track is not as good as the Avondale track but it’s walkable and it’s safer for this year. I’m also asking parents to drive their kids to meets because if not, we’d have to take like 4 buses.”

The inability to see each other for a year limited the team’s ability to prepare for the season and tryouts, so Souther and distance coach Tramell Smith sent out workouts over email to help their runners stay in shape.

Runners’ temperatures were checked before admission into the tryouts. Photo by Sam Fisher.

Despite some organizational challenges, Souther has remained optimistic.

“…We will take a group of kids to state, I know that for a fact, the question is just how many we will take, she said, “It is quite possible that we have runners who could win in the two-mile, the mile, and the 800.”

“We have some very good runners, and we have some very nice, hard-working people on the team, so that will make the difference,” she said.