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Apr 14, 2021

Bayshore Track Athletes Get the Chance to Compete at Polar Bear Meets

By Tim Morris

With a limited indoor track and field schedule in 2021, Middletown High School North Coaches Ray Convey and Brock Silvestri came up with a solution for the athletes: go outdoors. North hosted a series of Polar Bear Meets on the Lions’ outdoor track to make up for the lack of under-cover meets.

“Brock and I wanted to do something more for the kids,” said Convey. “We wanted to give them more opportunities to compete.”

So they came up with the Polar Bear Meets idea, a twice weekly competition that mirrored the indoor format. The 55-meter dash, for instance, was run instead of the 100 meters and 55-meter hurdles in place of the 110. The competitions were held Tuesdays for the sprinters and hurdlers, and Thursdays for the distance runners. Field events were spread out on the two days. To spice things up, the coaches added a 4×200 relay for sprinters and 4×800 for the distance runners.

Because of the lack of indoor meets this winter, the Lion coaches did not limit entries. This would give so many more athletes the chance to compete.

The competition wasn’t limited to Middletown North. The meets were held in a Bayshore Pod that included Middletown South, Holmdel, Monmouth Regionals, Matawan and Raritan.

The meets got off to a shaky start with the snowstorms that covered the North track and some bitter cold weather that pushed the start of the Polar Bear competition from February back to March 3 and 4. The wait was worth it.

“It was nice to be back and so good to see them compete again,” said Convey. “It was great seeing the kids smiling and cheering for each other.”

Convey added that the athletes were finally able to shake off the rust and prove the hard work they had put in prior to the races.

The indoor schedule this year was so limited that for Shore teams, it was just one qualifying meet in the Bennett Indoor Complex in Toms River to determine the field for the March 27 Shore Coaches Championships. This severely limited the number of athletes who could compete. But thanks to Polar Bear, the indoor athletes had more options.

At that first Polar Bear Meet, the Lions’ Rett Schnoor (55 dash) and Olivia Kelly (55 hurdles, ahead of teammate Hailey Guerrieri in second) won their respective races. Also claiming wins for the girls were Emma Powers (400) and Maya Yesalonis (shot put, with teammate Jada McKnight second). For the boys, Anthony Crimaldi (55 hurdles) took gold as well as Levi Wilson (long jump).

Holmdel winners were Ella Jennings (1,600) and Arianna Bartholemew (long jump) for the girls, and Dylan Day (55 dash) for the boys.