GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - While most high school fall sports teams await their delayed seasons, a select few have been able to get off the ground in the private circuit. The Benedictine Schools (Benedictine and St. Gertrude’s) cross country teams are among those squads, but the chance to compete in the fall of 2020 does not come without it’s noticeable differences.
It wasn’t that long ago when these student-athletes weren’t quite sure if their season would even happen.
“It was tough to grasp, get your mind around,” recalled Michael Morrissey, one of Benedictine’s junior runners.
“This is going to be disappointing if we don’t have a cross country season,” senior Mary Kehoe thought. “This is my last year to run.”
However, much to their satisfaction, the season is underway. The Cadets opened up their schedule at Fork Union this past Saturday and are preparing for a home meet this Thursday afternoon. These runners feel fortunate to be one of the few area teams able to compete.
“I know a lot of my public school friends, they aren’t having a season until February,” said Kehoe. “We’re lucky that we can get out there as early as we can.”
“Come out after school and practice as a team together,” Morrissey added. “It’s wonderful to get to do that after a long period of very interesting times.”
A season? Sure, but it’s a campaign unlike any other, especially when it comes to competition. Rather than a typical mass start where all of the teams leave from the starting line at the same time, squads are given time slots, with each individual team running by itself. Times are put in order after the entire field has completed the course and places are determined.
“All of our teams have to start at different times, about 20-30 minutes separate from each other,” explained Morrissey. “It’s hard to compete against other teams and stuff.”
“We also have to wear masks when we warm up and then if we go to a meet we keep our masks on until we race,” Kehoe added.
It’s different than a usual season, but these are adjustments the student-athletes are happy to make in order to be able to hit the course.
“It’s definitely a gift that we can come out here and race, even though we’re not racing against anybody else, it’s great that we can come out here,” Morrissey said.
It’s been a period that has tested everybody, including high school student-athletes, but these runners are taking everything in stride and learning all they can from the experiences.
“It’s kind of helped me be more resilient,” Kehoe pointed out. “We’ve moved forward because no matter what the obstacles are, they’re not going to deter us.”
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