Closure of The Armory upends NS High School winter track athletes’ season

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Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

North Salem’s winter track program is scrambling to salvage the season following the announcement last weekend that The Armory, home for the majority of Section I meets, will be closed for the indoor track season.

A statement posted Saturday from The Armory Foundation, which oversees the indoor track and field center, said, “beginning on Tuesday [January 12], the track at The Armory will be closed for the indoor track season to support a community initiative.”

“It’s really thrown a wrench into what we’re going to do in terms of meets,” said North Salem cross-country and track coach Chris Gould. Gould said that Section I athletics had originally planned to host meets at The Armory for five consecutive weekends beginning this Saturday, January 16. He speculated that the Armory may become a vaccine distribution site, necessitating the shut-down.

Gould has been in conversation with other coaches within the league to assemble an alternative plan to host scrimmages at outdoor tracks, including at North Salem High School. “It would give the kids something to look forward to,” he said. Section I officials have indicated that they’re amenable to work such events.

In a typical season, 80 percent of the team’s winter meets are held at The Armory. Located in upper Manhattan, the facility is considered one of America’s premier indoor track and field centers, and hosts over 100 track meets annually.

Today was the first official practice day for North Salem’s winter track team. Gould plans to have the team practice five days a week, weather permitting. “If it’s raining, as long as it’s not torrential, we’ll still try to get the work in,” he said. However, if there is snow, the students will not practice.

Gould said that North Salem’s track does not typically get cleared when there is snow, which presents another challenge should the school move forward with plans to host scrimmages there this winter. If snow has fallen several days prior to a scheduled meet and is not cleared from the track, that could necessitate canceling the scrimmage, even if weather on the day of the event is fair. Still, Gould acknowledged that snow is one factor officials just can't control for and that he'll encourage his team to focus on their training. Many of them have continued to train on their own since the cross-country season.

“The kids are champing at the bit," said Gould. "They want to be together.”

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