Breana Gambrell was a four-time PIAA state champion with the Athens High School Track and Field team, and was about to start her sophomore outdoor season at Penn State later this month, after finishing seventh in the long and triple jumps at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
That all changed on March 12 when Penn State Athletics and the Big Ten Conference canceled all competitions through the remainder of the academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn State also suspended all athletic activities indefinitely.
“When I came home for spring break, I didn’t even think this was a possibility — that I might not be going back to school at all,” she said. “It’s just a major shock for everyone … I thought I was just going to go home, spend time with my family, keep training and gear up for outdoor.”
Gambrell said the coaches sent an email letting the team know what had happened.
“You could tell by the tone in the writing that everyone was disheartened and upset,” she said.
Despite the unfortunate news, Gambrell is not letting the situation take away from her motivation, even if it means waiting until next season.
“I kind of see it as maybe a blessing in disguise, because now we have a lot of time to relax and reflect, and kind of plan ahead for next year to really figure out what we need to work on.”
Even with the added motivation, the pandemic has added another degree of difficulty to training. Penn State facilities are closed, and many gyms have shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I guess my training is kind of put on a halt for now,” she said. “Hopefully in the future things will improve so I can get back out there and keep doing my thing.
Gambrell said she’s been spending her time relaxing and keeping up with school work as Penn State is operating classes remotely until at least April 3. Students have been urged not to return to on-campus housing until then.
“I’m kind of letting everything sink in and deciding where to go from here.”