Girls Cross Country Succeeds Despite New Changes

The RMHS girls cross country team, like many other sports, had to adjust to unusual changes due to the pandemic. Some of the guidelines include daily temperature checks, face masks worn at practice until they go on their run, elimination of large invites throughout the season, as well as a new schedule. This new schedule will consist of only 6 dual meets within the MSL East conference and one crossover against an MSL West team. Coaches and administration are working together to create a plan for a conference meet to take place in mid-October, but nothing is certain. 

Despite the challenges during these uncertain times, the team has made the most out of practicing and team building. There are four captains, seniors Irene Park and Alexis Petrielli and juniors Payton Kohlberg and Molly Tavares, who showed incredible leadership skills by communicating with the team throughout the summer. 

 “They are great leaders, and have made sure every girl feels included in the team,” said head coach Steven Henry. 

Starting the last week of June, the team met in small groups to train while the captains lead the workouts. Despite the heat, the summer training allowed the team to have fun together and welcome some incoming freshmen. 

Of course, this is not how anyone expected their sports season to play out, but for seniors especially this can be upsetting.

“I wish we could have the invites so I can compete at them one last time, but I’m glad to even be able to run for my senior season,” said Park. 

The cross country team is one of a few teams that are allowed to continue this fall under specific guidelines because it is considered a “low risk” sport. Many teams, like football, had their season pushed back to the spring or even further. 

While cross country can continue to have their season, there are still traditions and ways for the team to socialize that they unfortunately aren’t able to take part in. 

 “I am sad that this is my senior year and I don’t get to experience things like going to Peoria and sleeping over there at a hotel and staying up with my team before the race that next morning,” Patrielli said. “I will miss singing on the bus back from meets with my teammates and annoying Coach Henry with it.”  

The team also had pasta parties every Friday with the team to prepare for Saturday meets that will likely not happen this year. The seniors are disappointed but are happy they still get a season and have the opportunity to run alongside their teammates and friends one last time. 

Overall, the team wants to focus on enjoying the experiences and improving individually week by week. 

 “Coach Marks and I believe that kids need the opportunity to be active and part of a team now more than ever before after 5 months of limited contact,” said Henry. “As long as the girls show up, have fun, enjoy being around each other and improve, we will have a very successful season.” 

The girls have personal goals they want to accomplish by the end of the season as well. 

“My personal goal is to beat my 3 mile time from last season,” said Park. “It’s a really basic goal but it’s something I’ve been aiming for since my freshman year.” 

The girls have training mates that push them to their fullest potential. With the summer running camp under their belt and practice with the coaches now, the team is prepared for their as they won their first meet against Hoffman Estates on Sep. 2.