Photo by Gianna Brogley

Cross country continues training through COVID-19

Already in the last few weeks of their season, the cross country teams have been maximizing both their training opportunities and COVID-19 precautions. 

Head coach Michael Davidson said his teams have had to balance district, county and state health guidelines while maximizing its training opportunities. Davidson said this means maintaining social distancing precautions, keeping masks on at all times and creating small running cohorts.

The teams, once numbering around 160 athletes, is now halved. Davidson said he thinks that’s because freshmen have not flocked to the teams like in previous years. But junior Dana Toussieh said she sees both the positive and negative sides of this significant drop.

“The team is much smaller because it’s almost entirely returners, so we haven’t gotten much new blood,” Toussieh said. “But because of COVID, we’ve had to split into small running groups, and the smaller team makes that so much less complicated.”

Toussieh also said running in masks was a challenge, especially because she can only take hers off when she’s isolated from others.

Despite all the difficulties, the teams have managed to keep competing, even if in a shorter, more condensed style. Schools are permitted to compete in dual meets called Super Saturdays, where two teams compete in distances one or two miles shorter than normal. 

“The kids have performed very well this season, especially the varsity boys,” Davidson said. “They, along with the girls varsity team, are probably some of the strongest teams in the league.”

Davidson said the boys varsity team has won each of its Super Saturday events, and he thinks they have a chance to win their final one on March 20. The girls varsity team has unofficially placed first or second as well, using the Super Saturday rankings.

“I’m really proud of the way these kids have responded to the challenges of COVID,” Davidson said. “They’ve been really flexible and done a great job in adhering to the regulations that have been placed upon them, and it’s been really fun being able to watch them do the sport that they love.”