Cross country team prepares for district while making adjustments due to COVID reality


photo or infographic by Emily Meachen

LEADERS OF THE PACK. At the race against Magnolia West, junior Kayman Hatthorn and Braden Kurtz lead the pack of runners from the track to the wooded section of the course.

Under the scorching sun, a thunder of steps can be heard from afar. For the runners on the cross country team, each day is like the one before. Work out before school. Work out after school. Run with friends on Saturday. Run alone on Sunday. The key to success is simple: work hard. Then you work harder. Never stop working hard. If your knee hurts, keep running. Had a bad day in school, run some more. 

But this year, the team has faced challenges that could not be fought with just hard work. Just as the season was getting starting, the cross country team was hit hard by the COVID pandemic. In a blink of an eye, almost the entire boys varsity team was under quarantine.

“COVID-19 has put a strangle on all activities and limits everything we can do as a team,” senior Braden Kurtz said. “We must and have changed our mindset to compete in this new environment while maintaining the safety of ourselves and other teams.”

After two weeks, the boys returned and were able to compete. In order to survive the rest of the season, the athletes knew that a new perspective was needed.  The team will compete in district at the end of the month at College Park.

It is obvious that this pandemic has put a strain on all sports. New guidelines to protect everyone’s safety, while helpful, also bring on an amount of change that is hard to adapt to.

“The steps that were taken to stop the spread of COVID were very effective with all the requirements such as wearing masks,” junior Casanova Brown said. “It was very smart of the school to ask who you hung out with so precautions could be taken and no one else would get the virus.”

Working out at home can be hard. Self-motivation and actually running at good a pace for improvement is not as easy as it seems.

“Working out in quarantine is horrible because it’s a lot harder to make sure you’re doing the right thing and not screwing up your times or how hard you put in effort,” senior Tucker Thompson said. 

As student athletes, finding a balance between school work and running can be tough. However, being in quarantine can take things to a new level.

“It sucks in all honesty,” Kurtz said. “I’d rather be in class and at practice and meets. It’s difficult for me to learn while I’m at home with so many distractions.”

In the end, what matters most is that there is improvement. 

“It was a little upsetting that I had to quarantine, but the first meet back was very promising,” junior Kayman Hatthorn said. “Now that we’re back in person, I can fully concentrate on achieving my goals for the season.”