Things may be different due to NJSIAA guidelines this season, but the IHA cross country team is not letting this diminish their spirit.
Over the summer, cross country, a sport where athletes run 5Ks (3.1 miles) on various courses, was ranked as one of the most likely sports to have a season during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to there being little contact between the runners. Guidelines differ for each state, but according to New Jersey, races may be held accommodating no more than four teams. Few family members are allowed to spectate, and they must wear masks and socially distance. Teams must wear masks amongst themselves, but are not required to do so during races, due to there being distance between the runners.
On Monday, October 12, the varsity cross country team won their Division G batch meet against Academy of the Holy Angels and Paramus Catholic in one of the best races the team has seen in years. 8 girls ran a new record, with Leanna Johnston’23 placing first overall with a time of 19:07, her first win in a cross country race and a new record by over a minute. The team’s average time was an impressive 19:52, and they placed all 11 girls in the top 13. Coach Downey has never been prouder.
This race also marks the first Varsity cross country race of Taylor Dilisi’21, Adriana Hotsko’21, and Grace Kelleher’23, due to guidelines permitting 12 runners on the varsity team this year rather than the traditional 7, and they each ran new personal records.
The seniors on the team are especially happy to see all their hard work paying off. “This is something we have been working for since our freshman year,” explains Geri Tabbachino’21. “This is the best our team has been in years.”
The cross country team saw a bit of a rocky patch after the class of 2017 graduated and its many elite runners left for college. “It was frustrating not winning any races for a while. But I’m glad we’re all in top shape now and it’s all paying off,” states Tabbachino’21.
The team only has a few more meets in store for them next month, but no matter what, this will be one unforgettable season.
Madelyn Novelli’21 Staff Writer