• Rachel Masson

COVID-19 complications for women's Cross Country

Coach Jennifer Johnson

By Rachel Masson

Sports Reporter

Since all sports have been moved to the spring, sports that participate in the fall, such as the Lady Bulldogs Cross Country team, are facing different conditions by participating in a different season of the year. Along with the runners already having a shortened season, COVID-19 complications do not make it any easier.

The Lady Bulldogs only had four meets scheduled, three regular season and the final meet for the GAC Championships. However, the team had to miss the first half of their season due to a runner testing positive for COVID-19, and were put into quarantine on Monday, Jan. 18.

Abby Lewis is a freshman on the cross country team and has been practicing for months along with the other runners in preparation for their season. However, since one of the runners tested positive, she hasn’t been able to participate in her first collegiate race.

“Missing half the season has been hard, especially being a freshman and not being able to experience that,” Lewis said.

Because the runners were put into quarantine for two weeks, the ladies not only missed two meets, but one of the meets was a home meet.

Zalee Tapia is another freshman on the cross country team. She shared her sentiments about missing a home meet.

“I was super excited for it and extremely nervous, a good nervous, but when finding out we could not compete, I was super sad because it was our first home meet and I was looking forward to it,” Tapia said. “I felt as I was prepared for this meet the most and knew I would do good due to practice on the course.”

Head coach Jennifer Johnson felt the same emotions as Tapia when realizing that her team would be missing a meet that SWOSU was hosting.

“It’s just frustrating because our team is really new,” Johnson said. “Out of eight girls, we only have three returners, so I’m really anxious to see these five run. I’ve now been their coach for several months and have yet to see how they perform in a race other than a time trial, which they’ve done really well in time trials. I’ve been really anxious to see how they stack up against the other schools, but I guess we’ll just have to wait a little.”

Now that the runners have finished their 14-day quarantine, they are now allowed to practice together again and prepare themselves for their next meet. Johnson says that she’s most anticipating competing against all the women’s cross country teams in the GAC.

“Last year, we struggled to have the numbers that we needed, so the quality of our team has gone up from where it needed to go last year,” Johnson said. “Really, it’s kind of like a first season for me in a way because this is the first team that I’ve got to put together.”

With only two meets left, this year’s freshmen do not have many chances left to compete this season. Tapia shared her goals for herself for the remainder of the season.

“With these two meets left, I personally want to see where I stand at,” Tapia said. “I haven’t ran for a long time, I have only ran a year and a half and I have improved a lot along the way, especially with my injuries, both ACL surgery left and right (knee). I also want to keep improving with my times and staying consistent through my whole run.”

Lewis also mentioned that she’s hoping to set personal records for herself during the remainder of the season.

The Lady Bulldogs will compete next in the ECU Tiger Chase hosted by East Central University in Ada, Okla. on Friday, Feb. 12.

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