INDIAN RIVER — Sarah Furman remembers that one day near the end of May last year.


It was a beautiful late Friday afternoon as the Inland Lakes girls track and field coach celebrated with her athletes, who had just claimed a first Division 4 regional championship since 2006.


Heading into what would have been this season, Furman and her team had a goal of defending that title.


Unfortunately, the Bulldogs won't get the chance as their season — along with spring sports entirely — was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Had the Bulldogs had a season, they would be in the heart of it right now, preparing for the big meets ahead.


"I'm wishing we were out there," said Furman, who is a math teacher at Inland Lakes. "It's funny because when the kids ask me in March, ’Mrs. Furman, are you excited for track?’ My answer is usually no because there's a ton of work and the weather's really crappy, but I love track in about the first or second week of May, when I see that the work is getting done and the kids are responding to what we ask them to do. It's about the time of year when things are coming together and you're like, ’Man, they've done what I've always been asking and it's gotten better.’ When we go into the regional week, that's one of my favorite weeks of the year.


"That's the part — it's hard."


The sad thing for the Bulldogs is they were going to have a real shot at defending their crown, especially with the returns of several solid athletes.


Leading the way was senior Chloe Smeltzer, who raced in both sprints and relays.


Holding back tears, Furman said it's been difficult to know one of her key point contributors in recent seasons won't get the chance to do it as a senior.


"Of all the girls coming back, the one that makes me sad the most is Chloe Smeltzer," Furman said. "She loves track and field, and she's all in all the time. She was never one of those people who complained when the weather was bad or got upset on the bus, she always came to practice and practiced hard.


"I'm crushed for her and her family, because that's a track program family."


Along with Smeltzer, the Bulldogs would have yielded a squad featuring juniors Christy Shank (hurdles/pole vault/relays) and Haivyn Fielder (sprints/relays), and sophomores Olivia Monthei (sprints/relays) and Addison Jacobs (hurdles/pole vault). Freshmen Larissa Huffman (sprints/hurdles/long jump) and Hannah Robinson (long sprints/high jumps) would have added depth to a squad that scored in several different events last spring.


While not at school, Furman has had a chance to interact with her athletes.


"A little bit, electronically, yes," Furman said. "If I bump into them on there they just say, ’I wish were practicing.’ I talked to Christy Shank in my Zoom for my math class last week and she was like, ’I've been running, I've been working out.’ Some of the 11th graders I have in my math class, they jump in. That's what they talk about is that they wish they were running."


So would the Bulldogs have repeated in 2020? We'll never know.


Furman, though, believes there was a strong chance to do so.


"Last year on paper we looked very senior-dominant, and this year started to roll around, and all of a sudden (us coaches) were looking at the roster and going, ’Wow, we've got some really good athletes,’" Furman said. "It was kind of exciting from a coaching perspective because I didn't really know where the pieces were going to go. I knew there was going to be a lot of experimenting, I knew relays for going to shuffle around a little bit, and that part was exciting.


"You could feel the excitement brewing with that."