And we are off and running! The 2020 Lawrence High School Cross Country team completed their annual time trials on Saturday out at the Billy Mills Trial on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus. Covid-19 regulations and expectations were in place for all participants and spectators to ensure a safe and fun atmosphere. It was a feeling of familiarity being able to watch the athletes take to a course and put their current fitness to the test. It is important to note that their times are only indicative of a fitness that does not include any speed work or core; their performance was raw, untrained.
The day got started at the semi-crack of dawn with the runners filing in at 7:30AM on the dot. The air was thick and the heat was starting to creep in over the rolling hills and thick wooded areas of the course. The Lawrence High School Cross Country tent was on display; dusting off its cobwebs and breathing in the 2020 fresh air. The girls were first up.
The ladies started without a hitch at 8:00AM. They kept their masks on for the first 200m and then removed them for an unhindered performance. Everything seemed to be going well until it was revealed that cross-town rival, Free State, was holding practice on one of the back loops of the course. They happened to place cones for their practice that inevitably threw off our girls and they ended up going onto the wrong portion of the course. Scrambling, we assessed how much was added and what kind of modifications needed to be done in order for the girls to get a close-to-5k time. With some quick decision making, the girls cut off the 600m loop and did the final 800m loop around the event celebration arena and up to the finish. The end results was a little shorter than 5k at 3 Miles. But given the circumstances and on-the-toes modification, we'll take it! Overall, the ladies did phenomenal and are ahead of where they were last year even without speed training, a 14-day quarantine, and Covid regulations.
We made sure to relay the cone debacle with the boys so that they were aware of what to do when they encountered the now-infamous cones. The boys began their trial after the girls were completed; divided up into teams to help create some competitiveness. The heat had started to become more apparent but the boys persisted and endured. They all clipped away, mile after mile, and settled in to their places as the race wore on. This was probably one of the more fast groups we've had in recent memory. While their times may not have been the quickest, the team spread was closer; a promising insight we can build upon as we look towards post-season aspirations.
It was a perfect day to see what the kids had on limited training. With some added speed work coming in the weeks ahead, it is without a doubt that we may be looking at a fast group on both the girls' and boys' side. We'll see what we can offer in Emporia next weekend as we take on some of the state's top performers!
So long as we can work within the uncomfortable and become familiar with that pain, every athlete will improve and grow – not just as a runner but a human as well.
Stay passionate. Stay vigilant. Stay safe.