Just a few months ago the fate of cross country season was very uncertain. The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges unlike anything we've faced before in the high school sports landscape.
The cross country season has now started, and we have had meets in a variety of different formats to start the year. I will start off by saying that most important thing from all this is that kids are getting the opportunity to race, no matter how different or weird the circumstances are. The racing formats has varied widely based on location and venue so far this season, but I think it has been very clear that wave based racing is very difficult on the runners. From the meets I've witnessed and person, the stories I've heard, and the results we've seen, the results of these waved races don't really paint a clear picture.
For example, if you look at this weekends races at Ray-Pec you'd see that Carolyn Ford ran 18:49 to narrowly beat Mya Trober who ran 19:00, and Olivia Littleton who ran 19:01. Most people will look at those results, and say they were pushing each other and it was a good race. They would be wrong. Neither of those three girls were even in the same wave. They all ran those times and won their wave by significant margins. I would say its certainly possible, if not extremely likely that they could've ran faster had they been racing against each other head to head. To be clear, I understand why we are doing waved races but I think we need to take that into account when evaluating how kids are doing, and its going to effect some much more than others.
Based on what I've seen, I would predict that we will see significant improvement across the board in post-season meets where athletes will be racing head to head. With that being said though, what exactly is the State Meet going to look like? Surely we likely won't be doing waves there, but is MSHSAA and Boone County going to allow all five classes to compete on the same morning? Arkansas just split their state competition over two days and I'm sure it's something MSHSAA is considering. On top of that are St. Louis County schools going to be able to make the trip to Gans Creek? As of right now Boone County isn't on the list of counties they are allowed to compete in. Is MSHSAA going to take that into account when creating districts by possibly grouping St. Louis schools together? Only time will tell.
I'll wrap this up by saying, the strangest thing I've seen so far is races without spectators. Again, I completely understand why meets are doing this. However, it's really strange being at a quiet cross country meet. As someone in our instagram comments said "you mean there's not going to be a random mom cheering me on at the 2 mile marker?" In a sport where the course is usually lined with spectators who cheer everyone on regardless of team, it certainly is very strange to see races run without someone's dad yelling "only 400m left" when there's around 1000m left to go.
Thank you for reading. Below you can find links to our top 100 rankings so far this season.