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ESU returns to the Indoor Track and Field Championship a year after COVID-19

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 7:56 PM CDT
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EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Emporia State’s known for success on the track.

“It’s always in the back of my mind every meet,” Brandon Rhone, Emporia State senior sprinter, said. “We’ve got to keep getting better so we can go out there and compete with the best. Because I feel like we are one of the best programs.”

Meaning a repeat trip to the D2 Indoor Track and Field Championships was inevitable.

“It’s really special,” Hayden Goodpaster, Emporia State junior sprinter, said. “You pretty much work all season to get to that point and a lot of people put everything they’ve got into it and don’t end up making it so to be the select few that make it means a lot. It’s a big deal.”

It almost felt like déjà vu for the men’s 4X400 relay team. Unfortunately, the old memory is painful.

“All the talk was about our 4X4 last year and how it was the year that they were going to take the National Title.” Carter Cox, Emporia State sophomore sprinter, said.

“I was definitely upset and I know everybody else was too.” Guy Ramos, Emporia State sophomore sprinter, said.

Almost a year ago, the team was ready to compete. Confident they were taking home the gold. Until, the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“We were one of the best teams in the nation and really every team was real close,” Rhone said. “I think you put us in the mix we would have one. So, it was real disappointing for that to get canceled.”

In an instant, all the hard work cut short.

“To be there and one day away from competing and just been told it’s over, you’ve got to go home,” Goodpaster said. “It was tough. It really just kind of felt like a slap in the face to everything that we had worked for.”

So when the Hornets took the track this year, the opportunity was cherished.

“Whatever happened last year, we can just throw that out the door, even though it got canceled,” Ramos said. “But we kind of just kept it on our mind that now that we can actually run, we need to go out there and run.”

“Every race this year, I’ve just thought back to a year ago I was in such a different position,” Jack Watson, Emporia State freshmen sprinter, said. “And not even being able to compete. So, just everytime I step on the track now, it’s like I remember that and I remember just how special this is.”

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