Northwest cross country continues with practices this fall despite the season being canceled. Athletes were able to train during the past months to prepare for training as a team.

Northwest cross country is looking for a push towards track and field in the spring now that a fall training regiment has been implemented for the program. 

With the cancellation of fall sports among the MIAA, the Northwest cross country season was put to a stop due to COVID-19. The heartbreak and uncertainty felt by the team has been uplifted with training in hopes for competition in the future.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have been able to return to training on the track inside of Bearcat Stadium, along with the one inside of Hughes Fieldhouse. 

Coach Brandon Masters has set up a weekly practice schedule for the teams to get ready for indoor and outdoor events in the spring for track and field.

“We have modified training in small groups called ‘pods,’” Masters said. “More work is able to be done. We are able to be more creative with training, and it has been a positive to be able to have more one-on-one work with the athletes." 

Before Masters’ regiment was implemented, the runners were accruing miles on their legs. With cross country not being a direct contact sport, the men and women have been able to continuously train during the past months in quarantine to get ready for opportunity to train as a team and compete in the spring

“Our athletes have handled the situation well, training on their own and being prepared for anything,” Masters said. “It has been a stress reliever for all of us being able to get back into pods and look for a bright future.”

Returning cross country runner junior Jake Norris had the chance to continue his outdoor training during quarantine in his hometown of Papillion, Nebraska, until he landed on Northwest’s campus for the fall semester. 

“I do not think anyone has truly been affected by COVID-19 on our team, but we can’t show what we have until later on,” Norris said. “The ones that are willing to work will have more time for growth, and those who slack only help us more.”

Norris’s role as an upperclassman this year is to be a leader and teacher for the younger guys on the team. He has looked forward to being back with his teammates and a train under all the conditions of COVID-19. 

 “Being back as a team has made it much easier to get better when we all have the ability to work with one another,” Norris said. “Spring will be exciting because we will have two training periods to show how we have improved.” 

There won’t be an announcement for a plan in the spring for the foreseeable future. Also, the MIAA has not released if there is only going to be track and field or if they will try to mix in a cross country season that the athletes missed. 

“We do not know yet about cross country in the spring,” Masters said. “There is no reason, in our eyes, to push for a cross country season when the training is different for track and field, when we can focus on that as a team.” 

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