Cross Country with Covid


Alice Conroy

PRE MEET WARM UP Varsity girls jog around the course before they place 4th at the Solon XC meet on Sept. 21.

Alice Conroy

Everyone is aware of the risks associated with school starting. But with school being shut down for so long, high school students were eager to get back to the extracurricular activities they love. With safety precautions in place, the runners of Mount Vernon High School jumped at the chance to compete again. 

The coaches went through the safety guidelines with the team the first day of practice. All runners were required to wear a mask at all times except when running. In past years, the team would usually gather in the school for a quick meeting before their daily run, but this year the team decided to meet outside on the track for necessary reasons. “Another difference compared from last year is the need to wear masks and social distancing, which isn’t very difficult because we’re outside in an open space,” said senior runner Sabrina Bleile. 

When the time came for meets, not everyone felt comfortable competing. A few runners only felt safe in practices, and refrained from competing to keep loved ones safe. However, those who do compete, feel that safety is always the top priority in their mind. “I am very conscious of the virus while running, especially at meets,” said Bleile. “You never know if they have been mindful of social distancing or not, so I try to keep to myself as much as possible during the race.” 

At the cross country meets, masks are required for spectators at all times. The course is crawling with individuals or small groups all spaced out from one another. Runners wear masks and stay with their team at all times, except during the race. The athletes take their masks off right before the start, but runners are spread out enough while running to where they feel safe. “I think everyone is taking this seriously and taking the necessary precautions,” said Bleile. “We don’t have to wear masks while running, so the limitations don’t really have an affect on how we compete this year. It’s just like last year in that sense.”

While there are many differences between past years and present day sports, there are also some things that never change. The team aspect, for instance, is the reason why a lot of runners went out for cross country this year. “The team is like a family, and everyone is very accepting and encouraging of their teammates no matter how experienced they are at running,” said Bleile. “That’s one of the main reasons I decided to go out this year.” Even in these times of compromise, the team always makes sure to encourage each other. 

A lot of athletes believe that this season is a valuable learning experience if nothing else. With having to be conscious of their surroundings and each other, each individual has had the chance to grow as a person this year. “I have learned to be aware of the things and people around me, and I think that is really important,” said Bleile. Although Covid-19 has stripped students of the normalcy of high school, the Mount Vernon cross country team is twisting it into an experience to learn, grow, and be thankful for what they have.