Port Boys’ Track Overcome COVID-19 Struggles For A Strong End to the Season

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On Dec.12, the Boys Winter Track 4x800m relay team finished strong in their event with the fastest time in New York State for 2021. (Contributed photo)

Last year, each of Schreiber’s sports teams was forced to adapt to a myriad of changes in order to play. Each season was shortened, teams had to wear masks at all times, indoors and outdoors, and many teams lost some of their season due to quarantines. Many athletes hoped it would be different this year, as COVID-19 numbers had been improving. Rules, and enforcement of masking regulations, were loosened throughout the fall and early winter seasons until mid-December when disaster struck the Boys’ Track team.
On Dec. 9, the team had their first meet of the season at St. Anthony’s indoor track. The boys had a great performance, with multiple runners hitting personal records. It appeared they would be set up for a great year, but a few days later, COVID-19 struck.
The following weekend, many of the boys began feeling symptoms of COVID-19, only a few days after the meet. Positive tests started rolling in Friday night, which meant that these team members were most likely incubating the virus at the previous meet. Most members weren’t all that concerned initially because they felt they were being safe enough.
“Protocols were followed pretty well, actually,” said senior runner Bram Franchetti.
“All of us who tested positive were fully vaccinated, so at the time, when Omicron wasn’t really spreading yet, we didn’t expect to get COVID,” said senior runner Daniel Greilsheimer
Franchetti would be one of 15 members (out of 25 total) to test positive that week, effectively shutting the team down. The track team wasn’t the only sports team to deal with COVID-19 issues, as the Boys’ Basketball team also had nine positive cases out of 13 players, and the school as a whole had approximately 100 cases in the ten days before winter break began on Dec. 22.
Athletes who tested positive had to quarantine and could not practice with the team. This, coupled with the holidays, led to extended pauses among those who tested positive.
“My layoff was about two weeks, between the quarantine and then the start of the holidays,” said junior thrower Nic Restivo.
Those who did not test positive continued practicing, but players were in and out of sessions due to various protocols. Athletes needed tests for close contact, and they couldn’t return to practice until the test came back negative, which adversely impacted everyone.
“Many teammates were in and out due to testing and COVID concerns, creating an overall negative impact on team morale,” said junior runner Joseph Asselta.
When the people who tested positive started returning to play, it was clear how much of a setback the virus would be. Every team member was affected somehow, but those that tested positive were harmed the most.
“I was affected pretty heavily. I was out of athletics for a good two weeks, and once those two weeks were over, I managed to get injured again,” said junior John Southard.
“The first meet I ran since coming back was last week at the Armory. Even though I hadn’t lost too much muscle or anything, my performance was impacted,” said junior sprinter Joe Green.
“I know of others who struggled with chest tightness and shortness of breath upon return. Some people even stayed home longer than the 10-day quarantine because of their symptoms,” said Greilsheimer.
Not everyone has been harmed, though. They are bouncing back well from the various changes they had to endure, and some have begun to improve from the beginning of the season.
“Coming back, I was struggling a little with events, but at this point, about two weeks later, I’m past where I started in terms of skill,” said Restivo.
“I was physically fine when returning to track,” said Greilsheimer.
“The team definitely took a morale hit, but most people are back and hitting personal records, and we think we still have a good shot at winning the conference,” said Franchetti.
The other significant impact of this outbreak is focused on safety. Some members feel less safe now than they did initially and are more inclined to follow the masking protocols that were not strictly enforced at the beginning of the season. While the team was required to mask at indoor practices and meets, there was no strict enforcement.
“I definitely feel like mask-wearing at meets, which include hundreds of people, could have been enforced more thoroughly. Most of the team, including myself, have started to wear [masks] outdoors again, like what we did last season,” said Greilsheimer.
“I felt pretty safe before everyone got sick, but the large track meets might have been a little too ambitious,” said Restivo.
“I am still more cautious to stay away from other schools and to wear my mask as much as possible before my race,” said Asselta.
Despite all of this chaos, confidence and morale are high for the team again. Schreiber’s track program has been historically great over the past two years, with the Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country, Spring, and Winter track teams being incredibly successful. The Boys’ Winter team is steadily improving with months to go in their season. They are looking to repeat their dominance from last year, where they had conference leaders in shotput, the 4x200m relay, and three top-five finishers in the 3200m race.
This season, the boys have top performers in many jumping and running events. Senior Devesh Mohan is currently third in Nassau County Class A in the triple jump, with a personal best of 39ft. Senior Charles Bosworth leads the county in the high jump, with a best of 5’10”. Senior Kevin Taylor is in the top five in the county in the 1000m, one-mile, and two-mile races, while Senior Colin Funk is first or second in each of these. Finally, the 4x400m team of Taylor, Asselta, and Seniors Terrence McGinty and Maxwell Meehan is second in Nassau County.
“The team’s outlook is very high for the rest of the season, as we have put COVID behind us early on. Now that most of the team is back, we have enough time to train properly for conferences and counties and can hopefully bring in another win,” said Asselta.

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