WAYNE – As thousands of spectators and competitors planned on spending Memorial Day weekend at Burke Stadium in Omaha for state track, now many are looking back at the memories from year’s past.
With no spring sports for student-athletes across the country due to COVID-19, the pandemic also caused the cancellation of a two-day state track meet that was scheduled for this weekend.
Dale Hochstein has coached track & field at Wayne High for 30 plus years. He started in 1987 with the girls and then took over both the boys and girls in the late 90s, early 2000s. Coach Hochstein said the team had sports picture day on March 17 when they got the iffy message of the start of postponements.
“So, that got dropped and so forth,” said Hochstein. “It was kind of the weekend before that we really kind of knew that things were going to be put on hold for a period of time. It wasn’t until April that we really knew everything was written off.”
Numbers were up this year for the Wayne High girls and boys track & field teams with a combined number of upper 60s. The girls side would have had seven seniors and four more for the boys.
“We had some good senior leadership coming back and some good young talent coming in,” Hochstein added. “The kids were working really great those first two weeks. They were pumped and they were excited. It was just kind of like an arrow to the biggest balloon you’d every seen.”
Numbers were also looking strong in the younger grades with 17 freshman boys coming out and over 12 on the girls side who competed well in the junior high ranks.
Wayne High was scheduled to host a pair of Invites on April 7 and April 14 from Kern Track but were unable to due to COVID-19.
Most of the coaches were also back. Terry Beair (pole vault), Mike Jaixen (high jump), Brendan Dorcey (throws), Christa Dutcher (distance), Jean Pieper, Jacob Daum (hurdles), Kiara Hochstein, Maysn Dorey and Mandy Stabler
“Some of those kids were still coming back and helping our kids,” Hochstein mentioned. “So, had a nice staff of solid experience coming back and then some kids that help out that really know their events and work really well with our athletes.”
Something that has never happened within two weeks of early practices was the Wayne High track & field team got all of their equipment out and set up at the track.
“Kids have had a chance to actually get out on the runway and the jump runway a little bit,” said Hochstein. “We were in the shot-put ring. We were able to get outside and do a few things in addition to our general conditioning. So, things were just looking really well then it all came to an end.”
The 2020 NSAA State Track & Field Championships were slated for Friday and Saturday, May 22 – 23. Coach Hochstein added since 1987 Wayne High has qualified kids to the state meet each year bringing back numerous medals.
“I still recall the first year that we went down,” said Hochstein. “We took two boys and there were five people from Wayne there. Now we have this area, the 300 Hurdle mark that half that hill is Wayne people. It’s just great seeing so many people go down experience the thousands of people that are sitting there at Burke Stadium and the atmosphere that’s there watching just the level of competition.”
Districts would have been May 14 from the Pierce Track & Field Complex and a few Wayne kids went down and videotaped themselves competing.