MONROE CITY, Mo. | The Monroe City boys and girls cross country team began practices on Aug. 10 in preparation for the fall season that is scheduled to begin in three weeks.
Monroe City cross country coach Laura Mulvaney has her team preparing for a season that promises to be different than any other.
“Cross country is a little different from other sports, we've always practiced social distancing because it doesn't require any sort of one-on-one contact with opponents and the goal is to strive to be as far ahead from everyone else as possible,” Mulvaney said.
The Monroe City cross country team will be following guidelines established by the school district that were recommended by the local health department this year. Runners and coaches will practice social distancing, using hand sanitizer and wear some sort of mask when not competing.
Although the Monroe City cross country team is preparing for the fall season, the team knows nothing is certain in the COVID-19 era.
“These athletes are resilient and tough,” Mulvaney said. “In fact, several of them have already been on a team that lost a season due to COVID and are anxious to get back to some sort of normalcy. However, I know that if we are delayed for a short period of time, many of them will continue to do what is necessary to not fall behind.”
On the boys side, the team will look to Kabott Harlan and Shawn Terrill for leadership. On the girls side, junior Emmalee Williams and senior Hannah Wheeler have been longtime leaders.
“This is a sport that is built on unity and camaraderie,” Mulvaney said. “Therefore, you have to have leaders that not only build that unity, but also portray hard work and determination, which is something that most of our cross country athletes already possess.”
The entire girls team just missed going to state last year by one point, so Mulvaney said they are hungry for another chance to earn that spot.
“Emmalee Williams is our only returning runner to go to state last year, but we have several members of the girls team that would love the opportunity,” Mulvaney said. “Senior Lauren Smith really started to show improvement last year after coming back from injury and nearly earned an individual spot at state, so I'm excited to see how she improves this year and helps push her fellow teammates to success.”
Mulvaney said many of the team's runners are excited to get out and compete after missing the spring track and field season.
“On the boys team, Kabott Harlan and Kaleb Griffin saw some success last fall and would like a chance to earn an opportunity at state, along with the rest of the boys team.”
The cross country season is scheduled to kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 1 with a meet in Salisbury.
For now, spectators are going to be allowed to attend Monroe City cross country home meets.. The fan policy is up to the discretion of each individual school in Missouri, so it may be different on road meets.
“The schools have done an excellent job of staying in contact with local health organizations to determine the safety of our student-athletes and fans,” Mulvaney said. “As of today, many of the health departments at our meet locations are not limiting crowd sizes. If that information changes, the community will be informed by the school.