Uncrowned Champion: Cancellation of Nationals Denies Track Star Simon a Chance to Defend

Chelsea High senior Stephanie Simon would have been one of the clear-cut favorites in this past weekend’s new Balance National Championships in New York City.

As a defending national long jump champion, reigning state triple jump champion and a Division 1 scholarship-athlete, Simon has become somewhat of a celebrity at regional and national competitions.

But officials made the decision last Thursday to cancel the event due to the Coronavirus.

“I’m disappointed but I saw the decision coming and I feel they did the right thing,” said Simon. “When it got closer to the date, I got my hopes up, so I guess that kind of made it more disappointing.”

Simon was looking forward to competing against other elite seniors, who like her, have made commitments to Division 1 women’s track programs.

Always confident about contending in every meet, Simon felt she was in a good position to reclaim her national title.

“I usually peak around the nationals,” said Simons. “I wanted to do 19 feet this year (she won last year’s nationals at 18 feet, 10 inches).

The 5-foot-4-inch athlete has been unbeaten inside the Commonwealth Athletic Conference in multiple events for the past three years. She excelled in the 55-meter dash, long jump, and high jump this winter.

Simon was asked whether the dash affects her readiness for the other two events, where she has been most successful.

“Running the dash has become a good warm-up for the long jump because you run up the runway before you jump and you want to make sure you’re fast and consistent,” said Simon.

Simon’s official practice schedule has been put on hold as Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered the closure of all schools until April 7. Pre-season workouts for the spring track season were scheduled to begin Monday (March 16).

“Right now, I’m not sure whether there will be a season or whether the stadium will be open for individual workouts,” said Simon.

Simon said is very grateful to her track coach, Cesar Hernandez, who was scheduled to accompany her to the Nationals, and CHS director of athletics Amanda Alpert, who has been in contact with her about the status of the outdoor track season.

Alpert hosted a March 9 winter sports awards program during which Simon and her indoor track teammates were recognized with jackets and awards. It could be the last athletic event of the school year.

But Simon said she’s anxious to get back on the track, help her team win a final CAC title (before Chelsea returns to the GBL next year), and contend for another state title.

“I’m just looking to get out and compete,” said Simon, adding that she was hoping that the Summer Olympic Games go on held as scheduled.

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