Because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, summer training for high school sports has been altered drastically.

Fortunately for one sport, the health guidelines and precautions have not been as extreme as it has for others.

“I think cross country has been pretty easy to incorporate the guidelines into our workouts. We are able to do everything outside with limited use of equipment,” said Skyline cross country head coach Rhonda Saint. “I chose to not do the weight room this summer due to the virus, just as a safety precaution. We’ve just tried to make up the difference by doing lots of strength and core workouts outdoors. This easily allows us to be able to maintain that necessary distance apart. Kids are flexible. They are eager to get back to it, so they all followed the guidelines without any problem at all.”

Summer cross country workouts officially give way to official preseason practice on Monday. Coaches reached for comment by the Sentinel said their teams made the necessary gains this summer despite the differences in workouts.

“My kids have adapted well to the mandated adjustments. We have tweaked a few things, but we have to prepare for the season. COVID-19 isn’t making the races shorter or the courses easier, so we train responsibly,” said Pisgah head coach Gus Hembree. “We have had a great summer. Our numbers are good. I think the kids are enjoying having the opportunity to come to practice.”

Scottsboro head coach Luke Robinson said his teams’ summer workouts went well. The changes to summer activities the Scottsboro teams usually do off the course has been the biggest adjustment, he said.

“One of the things that has made Scottsboro cross country so successful, there’s a lot of tradition that Coach (John) Esslinger started, that has made it a family atmosphere,” Robinson said. “Some of those things, like the retreats that the kids really enjoy and look forward to, where the teams really bond, team activities like that that with COVID you just can’t do. That’s the toughest part.”

Even though there were differences, the coaches agreed that resuming the workouts was something their runners were anxious to do.

“I think the kids were ready to get back to some normalcy in their life,” Saint said. “Getting together for workouts and runs has been a great way to start that process.” 

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