Cross country season halts at the starting line

Much has changed in just about every corner of the world over the course of the past few months. The COVID-19 pandemic ripped the structure away from just about every aspect of life as we know it. For many, the new school year promised beginnings in the wake of uncertainty and chaos, and the majority of individuals still seem to be searching for bits and pieces of the normalcy that existed before everything was forced online.


While the nature of sports was drastically changed due to the pandemic, the heart and dedication of the athletes who make up Valpo’s sports teams remains as strong as ever. Many teams are continuing to practice and attempting to better themselves and encourage their teammates, even in the midst of uncertainties about what the rest of the season, or even the rest of the academic year, may hold.


Valpo’s Cross Country team, for instance, has been facing the struggles brought on by the pandemic head on.


“As a Senior, I don’t really have another cross country season to look forward to [after this],” said Senior Sarah Ceasar. “I just want to make the best of it.”


Traditionally, runners participate in Cross Country in the fall semester and Track in the spring. At the moment, the cross country season is declared to be cancelled, meaning that teams can still practice, for limited times with strict guidelines, but there will not be any competitions between other schools within the conference.


“It’s been a little difficult at times,” Caesar said. “This year, we can’t really get into the weight room to lift because they took away a lot of equipment and we have to distance so you can only have [a few] people in there at a time. But our coach has come up with new ways to weight train without going into the weight room… We definitely had to change some of our training in order to work around all the guidelines.”


Even though the physical approach to practice is different this year, the mentality remains the same.


“I keep approaching [practice] with the same mental aspect,” said Ignacio Celoz Bonilla, a junior Cross Country member. “I try to take it one day at a time and practice as hard as I can every single day.”


However, the absence of ‘real’ competitions isn’t stopping the team from competing against one another to improve themselves and their own skills.


“One thing that our coach has done that I think is pretty cool, is every week we’re doing time trials within our team so we can kind of simulate having a race,” Caesar said. “[It] gives us something to look forward to and prepare for.”


The team’s main goal throughout all of this, however, is to keep spirits and work ethic up.


“I know there’s not any competitions going on - there won’t be any time for that until the Spring, and even then it’s a big maybe - but I’m just trying to stay in shape and keep working hard.” Bonilla said. “It’s better to keep working hard at being in your optimal shape and not lose it all, rather than lose it all and have to build it all back up [next season].”


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