PRINCETON, Minn. (BVM) — On March 24, Ryan Young lined up to run the first race of his senior year. The long distance runner was coming off a state appearance in cross country this fall and was gearing up to have a strong final track season on his way to running at Minnesota State University – Mankato.
It was a meet unlike any other meet the Princeton High School runner had been in. There was no one running against him, no officials, no coaches, and no teammates. The only fans there to cheer him on were the ones that had watched him run his entire career – his parents.
“They actually showed up with me not even knowing, I was just about to go then they pulled up and I was like I should probably wait for them,” said Young.
With his father as the official timer and his mom cheering him on, Young raced the 800 meter, 1600 meter and the 3200 meter on an empty track.
We went to an empty track yesterday to cheer on Ryan while he ran the 800m and 1600m alone, on the day of what would have been the opening meet of his senior year for PHS Track and Field. His Dad was the official timer. pic.twitter.com/ho1vjIIpaF
— Kim Young (@kimmyyoung05) March 25, 2020
The reason for Young’s solo race was that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused the meet to be canceled. All across the country spring sports like track & field have been postponed or canceled as the country tries to fight the virus.
“I just thought I’m not going to let this ruin my senior year of running and although I might not have people to run against I’m still going to go out there and act like nothing happened because I have that opportunity. I still have the track to go to, I still have my spikes, and I still have my jersey…So I’m just like, ‘Why not?’ So I went out there and I’ll probably end up doing that for the rest of the year,” said Young.
This also is not the end of Young’s running career. He, like other seniors, will go on to compete in college. That doesn’t change the fact that he may end a part of his career in a way that is completely out of his control and without being able to accomplish his goals.
“Going into track this year some of my big goals were trying to get those records off the record board…I was thinking hopefully I get some of those records or just leave my mark on Princeton as a runner,” said Young.
Ryan still has those goals of breaking the current records of a 9:30 time for the 3200 meter, 4:22 for the 1600 meter and 1:58 for the 800 meter races.
“Who knows maybe I’ll get close, maybe I won’t. I’ll get it, but don’t want to be like, ‘there’s a virus out that went around and that just made me completely give up.’ It’s just another obstacle for me and something I’m trying to get over right now,” said Young.
This is hard for athletes, but Young’s race also shows how hard this is for all those athlete’s parents as well. They are the ones that supported their children throughout their careers. They drove them to practices and games, paid for their equipment, and cheered them on win or lose. For them this was going to be their chance to watch their kids compete in the sport they love.
In Ryan’s case they are also the ones who persuaded him to join track and cross country in the first place.
“Seventh grade, eighth grade my parents were telling me, ‘Ryan, you should really try out cross country. It will keep you in great shape for basketball.’ Honestly the main thing that stopped me was the shorts which is kind of funny because I literally just did not want to wear those short shorts and now I love the short shorts and I wear them every chance I get. I just didn’t want to do it and then finally in ninth grade they convinced me to join it,” explained Young.
Ryan is their eldest and he knows this has been hard on them too. All of the fun things that come with the spring of your senior year are now canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future.
“I’m their first senior and them knowing the senior experiences I’m missing out on…It’s pretty hard on them too, especially my mom, so them coming out and watching me is something big that’s kind of helping them a little bit…It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing,” said Young
The Youngs, in a touching way, fought back against the uncertainty and together got a moment they all can cherish. Ryan ran the first race of his senior year, while his parents got to help their oldest son not completely lose his senior season and cheer him on like they always have.