It’s been said that sometimes the view’s better from the outside looking in.
And in Bayfield High School track and field head coach Josh Walton’s case, outside is where he’d most like to be these days rather than more or less confined in his movements because of coronavirus-prevention protocols.
“It’s been sad living right next to the track and not being able to go out on it,” Walton said. “But I’m doing good, and my family’s healthy. So, everything’s good.”
And in the greater context of humanity, well alright then.
A lesser, more localized context, however, still motivates the veteran mentor’s mentality.
“You know, I’ve sent emails out, I’ve talked to some people on Google Hangouts – that’s kind of the contact that we’ve done,” he said. “We’ve sent some workouts out – I shared my entire distance workout with the distance crew for them to just stay in shape – and there are kids I’ve seen running around town.”
But more than a month after the Colorado High School Activities Association had prominently presented – in the form of canceling the final two days of the state basketball championships – its concern for health because of the nefarious global pandemic, the dreaded decision to mothball prep sports until at least the fall was made Tuesday morning.
And just like that, all anybody could really do was ponder the what-might-have-beens.
“We were really excited about the year as far as the boys go,” Walton stated. “And on the girls side, we’re really on a rebuilding year, but we also had our largest girls numbers in several years – at least as long as I’ve been coaching.”
Walton addressed the obvious, mentioning expectations were high for several individuals who’d qualified for the Class 3A state championships either last year or in past years, particularly seniors Josh Kaufmann (discus), Dylan Hilliker (sprints, jumps) and Dawson French (pole vault), plus junior Crosby Edwards (high jump).
“Josh threw his PR last year, so obviously he was going to keep accelerating,” said Walton, alluding to Kaufmann’s third-place state effort in the discus last year. “Crosby was back again, as well, and Dawson, honestly, has just been a staple of our pole vaulting team the last three years. I could have easily seen him going 14 feet this year – he went 13-06 last year – or maybe going after our school record, which is 15 feet.
“Dylan, after having an injury last year as a junior and not really being able to be a part of last season, was really starting practice off great and was jumping over 20 feet in the long jump. We were really excited about him.”
Other names Walton mentioned included: sophomore Landon Kennedy (jumps, sprints); the distance trio of junior Zeb Shields (800-meter run, possibly also the 1,600 and 3,200), senior Rylan Ross and sophomore Royce Hinojosa (individually, or as legs of a potential 4x800 relay); and sophomore all-rounders Marco Evangelista and Cael Schaefer.
“With those guys back, we felt we had a strong crew,” said Walton.
But with “a very young team – lots of freshmen, lots of sophomores and juniors,” new talents were certain to emerge, with thrower Emily Nelson one name Walton quickly dropped.
“Threw for us as a freshman,” he said, “and she threw the discus around 100 feet in practice, which puts her as almost an automatic state qualifier in 3A,” Walton said. “It would have been really interesting to see where she’d have landed, being only a sophomore. Hopefully, she gets more opportunities to perform like she can.”
Developing as a sprinter and jumper, sophomore Abby Tate would have been another multi-event prospect to watch. McKenna Cole and Claire Hufnagel headed a small senior class, possibly along with Bronwyn Hunter, while sophomores Paige Porter, Eli Ion, Skye Forgan, Jordan Martindale and Victoria Forgan were potential up-and-comers hopefully back in the mix.
The Wolverine roster also showed volleyball standout Melissa Roberts, basketball regular Aubree Farmer and soccer veteran Brooke Merchant – all juniors – plus multiple Wolverette Dance Team and BHS Cheer Squad members.
“We were really excited about the girls that were coming out,” said Walton.
Now, Walton can only look to the 2020-21 school year and hope for more days on the track under the spring sun in days and years to come.