Cross country prepares for a new season under new safety measures


Elijah Poe, Sports Editor

With COVID rules in effect, the cross country season will look a lot different from last year.

Team practices have been vastly different.

“We have been wearing masks before we run and after we run, so whenever we are not running we have masks on to keep us safe. We also try to social distance when we talk to stay safe and sanitized,” junior Selena Pinon said.

With a new look in coaching, the practices and meets look at lot different from last year, too.

“This year we had to cancel camp and things like spaghetti dinners and the social things we were able to do last year. It’s a bummer, but under the circumstances, it’s what we have to do,” Assistant Coach Matthew Hockersmith said.

The team started practices in July.

“The coaches have been really strict on all of the guidelines and making sure that the runners are staying safe though out the season,” junior CJ Meyer said.

The cross country team has been preparing for an invitational at Franklin High School on Aug. 29.

We were doing no direct communication with athletes throughout June. We would send them a course through canvas and then they would run that course. Then we started to run actual practices in July,” Coach Hockersmith said.  “Usually we start over the summer building what we call our base. But without being able to do that we have taken a little bit of a different approach to this year. One thing we have changed is that we really target the athletes. Not for them to just run hard, but to meet the times that are set, Coach said.”

Invites can have a lot of teams show up to run.

“This year one thing that has changed is that we have to wear masks. We are expected to wear them at the starting line, keep them around our necks when we run, and put them back on when we cross the finish line. I don’t think they will invite a lot of teams like they had in the past because of COVID,” Pinon said.

Schools are also taking more precautions to keep students safe.

“This year schools have limited the amount of runners the schools can bring. No tents anymore where we would all group as a team. We have to stay on the bus and social distance from every school there so it is going to be really interesting,” Meyer said.

The team is also looking for underclassmen to lead the way once juniors and seniors graduate.

“We have a lot of freshman boys this year that had kind of carried in from the middle school when I was coaching there. We are kind of light on the girls but we got one this year and are looking at our 7th grade class that has a lot of girl runners,” Coach Hockersmith said.

Last year the cross country teams advanced to Regionals. This year the team has hopes to repeat that performance.

“I am feeling pretty good in our team right now. I hope we will be able to advance in all of our big meets and place well. We are all feeling really good for the upcoming season,” Meyer said.