By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Hundreds of Palisades High students have seen their athletic careers end prematurely as a result of the CIF canceling all sporting events for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of them have stories to share of utter shock, disappointment and missed opportunities, including senior runner Sarah Bentley, who was deprived her chance of a third City track title in the 3200 meters.
“Everything that’s going on right now with COVID-19 is tragic and a whirlwind—even after two weeks of self-quarantine I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all,” she admitted. “Especially after [last week’s] announcement regarding the cancellation of school for the rest of the semester I’ve been feeling pretty sad about missing out on senior events and my last track season.”
Bentley won the City 3200-meter race as a freshman and repeated as champion the next year. She was third in the 1600 and sixth in the 3200 last spring and took third at the cross country finals in the fall.
“After struggling with a few nagging injuries during cross country I was hoping track season could be my comeback,” she said. “I was also hoping to break five minutes in the 1600 and 11 minutes in the 3200 in addition to qualifying for the state finals one last time. Besides those goals I was really excited to go through the whole process of training hard with my teammates and competing to the best of my ability. I love going to practice after school each day. Seeing my team and going on runs always puts a smile on my face, so I wanted to savor that for one final season. The fact it’s all lost now definitely hurts.”
Although disheartened, she nevertheless keeps it all in perspective.
“As upset as I am about missing my second semester I try to look at the bigger picture and recognize that there are much larger problems in the world right now. COVID-19 is very serious and thus we have to make serious sacrifices to ensure it doesn’t bring severe damage to our society and economy. Social distancing and online school are absolutely necessary, and missing track season is a small price to pay for saving hundreds of thousands of lives and preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. So I try to refrain from complaining.”
One of Bentley’s proudest accomplishments is qualifying for the state cross country meet four times.
“My family has been taking the self-quarantine very seriously, so I only leave the house to exercise or go to the grocery store,” she added. “Coach Rob [Hockley] has been sending the team weekly training plans which I follow diligently. I’ve found running to be a solace amidst the chaos of current events, as it provides me with a time to get a breath of fresh air and clear my mind of all the anxiety in the world. Since I have more time on my hands I’ve also been trying to gain muscle by doing strength training every other day in my family’s home gym in our garage. Coach Gwen [Twist] also recently started a workout chain in the girls cross country group chat which was super fun. We each sent videos of ourselves doing a specific exercise and nominated a teammate to do another exercise.”
Liker her fellow students, Bentley is adjusting to instruction being off campus and not in a classroom.
“Online school has actually been going very well,” she said. “I have to applaud Pali High on making a very smooth transition from in-class learning to eLearning. I usually attend conferences for my classes a few times a day, through which teachers give lessons and answer students’ questions. I also complete work assigned through our online platform, Schoology. To maintain my sanity, I FaceTime with friends for a few hours every day. Although it’s not as good as face-to-face interaction, I’ve found that keeping in touch makes the quarantine feel much easier.”
Also a straight-A student and math whiz, Bentley will be going to MIT in the fall.
“In my free time I’ve tried to take up new hobbies such as painting or hiking (before the trails were closed) and reading new books,” said Bentley, who lives by St. Matthew’s School and went to Marquez Elementary and Paul Revere Middle School. “I got into MIT early action, which definitely gives me something to look forward to. I’ll be running on the cross country and track teams there as well, so in the coming months I’ll probably start training prescribed by the MIT coach.”
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