Maryville cross country made a two-hour trip to Raymore-Peculiar High School to compete in a rather unique version of the Raymore-Peculiar Cross Country Invitational Sept. 12.
Battling against a couple of different factors, coach Rodney Bade said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was a pretty good meet for us,” Bade said. “It was kind of a different style of meet — they did a wave start, so we were in a wave with four other schools.”
In cross country, a wave start is when 10 or less runners start 30 seconds before the next group of 10, and so on until all runners have started. This was done to lessen the chances of runners contracting COVID-19. However, it created a different atmosphere than expected for a normal meet.
The wave format wasn’t the only restriction given to runners. Like most high school sporting events this season, two spectators per athlete were allowed entry, and each race was limited to roughly 50 athletes.
“This was the first time we’ve seen that,” Bade said. “The meet didn’t have that big, giant carnival-like feel. You didn’t get 150-200 kids storming down a starting straight into the first turn — you miss that.”
Bade said he thinks that the time trial-esque ambiance affected how the ’Hounds competed, but he tried to prepare them to run alone during a race. The effect of this type of racing varies for each individual runner.
For Maryville’s top two runners, Bade said they weren't affected by the distance separating the athletes. However, for No. 3 runner junior Cale Sterling, Bade noticed his race was impacted by such gaps.
“Our third runner was totally out by himself for a long time,” Bade said. “Once he lost contact with that group in front of him, it was really mentally difficult to try and claw that back. The time of day we raced, all of a sudden the sun came out and it got crazy, so that didn’t help us either.”
Pushing onward from their second outing this season, Bade hasn't changed his plan of attack with the Spoofhounds. Bade understands this season isn’t guaranteed, at least this semester, which ushers his thought of getting his runners to run well in the event that this season meets the same fate as its spring counterpart.
On Sept. 19, Bade will take senior Garrett Dumke, junior Jag Galapin, junior Cale Sterling and senior Jake Walker to Pella, Iowa, to compete in the Heartland Classic.
“We were going to go to Joplin at Missouri Southern — crazy fast course down there,” Bade said. “They had to cancel that, so I was scrambling to try and find something.”
Originally, the team was scheduled to run in the Missouri Southern High School Stampede Sept. 19, but the meet was canceled due to the large registration of athletes, surpassing the allowable gathering limit in the city of Joplin, Missouri.
Bade said the Pella meet will be smaller than he’s used to attending, but it will host the largest field the team has seen this year. His plan for the top four this meet is to run fast with the thought of no state championships lingering in the background.
“I can try and get us to peak mid-season — this week,” Bade said. “If we lose the rest of this season, hopefully we can at least throw down a decent time. I would’ve liked to go down to Joplin. That was the goal, to race fast mid-season in case we don’t get the rest of it.”
Bade said he tries not to give the thought of a postponed postseason any light of day, but the cancellation of more meets feeds his anxiety. He is advising his athletes to do their part in limiting the spread of COVID-19 with the hope of being able to finish out the season.
“I try to talk to them about keeping their circle of influence fairly small,” Bade said. “Some of the runners are social butterflies. You can’t control who they hang out with or what they do on the weekend. I guess I try to make them a little more aware of that, but I don’t know how well that is sinking in.”
The weight of this season almost falls into the hands of the athletes, and Bade said he can’t do anything except give the team the rest they need.
“I can’t do anything about the cancellations,” Bade said. “Maybe the season goes on; but if we get to the middle of October and all of a sudden two of our runners are quarantined, the freshmen aren’t ready to be No. 4 and 5. If we lose one to quarantine, we’re not moving on as a team. That’s got me pretty anxious.”