By Nathan Cambridge
It was time for the 5th-graders of South Pasadena to get things back on track, and in this case that literally meant getting back on the track.
After the 2020 version was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 All City Track Meet was back up and running at South Pasadena High School’s Ray Solari Stadium on Sunday morning.
“I’m thrilled that these 5th-graders get to have an event to kind of mark their end-of-elementary-school experience,” co-chair Eryn Kalavsky of Arroyo Vista Elementary School said. “It’s a rite of passage for them to get to have this opportunity.”
To maintain protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the organizers altered the format. This included limiting the number of attendees to the event, which in years past has attracted upward of about 700 students and their family members, resulting in an event just for the 5th-graders.
The All City Track Meet included competitors from four elementary schools: Arroyo Vista, Marengo, Monterey Hills and Holy Family. Throughout the day, participants arrived in three separate shifts with about 40 kids in each wave; they would finish their competition and exit with their supporters just as the next group rolled in. Participants ran the 100-meter run, then the long jump and high jump. The next event included the 400-meter run. Finally, the four fastest kids in the 100 meters from each school raced in a 4×100 relay race, co-chair Gina Loyonnet of Monterey Hills explained.
“Just to make sure we were able to keep distance and we’re able to monitor the kids, we split it into sessions,” co-chair Noel Garcia of Marengo said.
South Pasadena’s three public elementary schools had students in each session, while Holy Family Catholic School joined them exclusively in the second group.
“I’m pretty excited,” Holy Family 5th-grader Ella Igtanloc said in the stands awaiting her turn. “I haven’t run for a tournament in track in a really long time because of the pandemic, so, yeah, I’m pretty excited.”
After a group warmup and jog, boys’ and girls’ 100-meter dashes kicked things off.
“The most fun one in my opinion was the 100-meter,” Arroyo Vista Wildcat Yannick Colin said, “because I can go fast and I still won’t be tired at the end.”
The relay, which was coed for the first time, finished each session.
“I think I liked the relay the most,” Monterey Hills Roadrunner Ramona Nichols said. “We exchanged batons and there were lots of kinds of people, girls and boys.”
Each of the top three finishers in every heat in all three sessions was awarded a medal, got their names read over the loudspeaker and stood atop a podium.
“I was so proud [seeing her on the podium],” Monica Munoz, an alumna of South Pasadena High School, said of her daughter, Juliana Hernandez. “It’s been a couple years she has been running for Arroyo Vista and she always does a great job and we’re always very proud of her.”
Although the live event was limited to the 5th-graders, the rest of the elementary school grades were able to take part in a virtual manner in the days leading up to the meet.
“We were just so excited to do this for the 5th-graders who missed out last year and were probably looking at missing out this year on all of the best in-person events of the year,” co-chair Megan Gardner of Arroyo Vista said. “We wanted to offer an in-person event as it became more obvious that we were going to be allowed to do outside events.”