The College of Wooster men’s and women’s cross country teams conducted their first timed trial run last Friday, Oct 2. The trials were conducted to give the athletes a semblance of a regular season after the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) decided to suspend its regular season during the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year. The teams ran a 4k route on the College golf course to garner a sense of where the team stood during this timeframe.
On being asked how they feel the College guidelines have affected their practice, Captain Zoe Covey ’21 said, “Cross country practice[s] can be pretty independent, so practice meetings were fairly easy to adapt to the current COVID-19 guidelines.” When asked how new practices are structured she added, “We do have workouts twice a week that are actively coached, and before entering this phase we were not allowed to receive any coaching, so it has been nice for the team to be able to work with Coach Rice again.”
Many on the team were happy to have a structured event which gave them something to strive for, with many expressing delight. On being asked how it felt to be competing again, Marian Overfield ’22 stated, “I felt happy to be back in a competitive atmosphere!” Teammate Rachel Osterhouse ’22 echoed Overfield’s sentiment when she said, “It was great to get the whole team together and get decked out in the new tartan uniforms.” Georgina Tierney ’22 further added, “The tartan uniforms gave the team the extra pep we needed to run strong!”
The time trials gave the team the opportunity to further improve without the risk of contracting COVID-19. Matt Prill ’23, when asked how the race felt, said, “Friday was a great experience in my opinion because we were able to get a near authentic race experience without actually racing.”
Many cross country members echoed Prill’s statement and felt that the trial gave them the competitive feeling that the teams crave during the regular season. Captain Noah Crane ’21, when asked about his performance, said, “I felt really good about my performance on Friday! 14:31 is a personal record for me from last year, and I think that as a team we all did very well despite how hilly our home course is. It was great to be back to racing again, and to wear the Wooster uniform. It was a nice reminder of how much I enjoy racing and competing with my teammates.”
The trial also gave them the chance to glance at themselves and rate their performances. Co-captain Jackson Todd ’21 said, “I was very happy with my performance during the time trial. Especially in a year like this, everyone is at a different spot with their training, and so the time trial was a good check-in for me to make sure that I am where I want to be right now.” The teams have been carefully catering to Wooster’s COVID-19 guidelines.
On the guidelines, Covey said, “Everyone has a different comfort level, and our coach has been great about letting people choose what they are and are not comfortable with in terms of in-person practices. We are more conscious of who we run with than ever before so that we can stay with the same group to avoid broad exposure.” She continued, “It can be hard to remember in the moment, but wearing a mask shows love and care for those around you, and we can’t let our frustrations with the state of the world stop us from taking care of one another.”
“I greatly appreciate everything that Wooster’s faculty, staff, coaches and administrators have done to keep us safe and on campus this semester, but that doesn’t mean that more necessary actions couldn’t be taken in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread to more students,” Crane said. “We are also very fortunate enough that the athletic department gave our entire team COVID-19 tests, in order to make sure that none of us are putting the campus safety at risk.”