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An “off-season” for our runner athletes

Sports are slowly being allowed to resume their seasons. The NCAA voted that the men’s and women’s basketball will have their first game on Nov 25. Other sports such as Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball and Cross Country have returned to practice this fall without having official dates to safely begin competitions. Although COVID-19 impacts all of Oral Roberts University sports, cross country has been uniquely troubled. 

“When Corona came we lost our track season in the spring, so we’ve been anxiously anticipating when we can finally race again,” says Junior cross country runner, Colleen Kuchem. 

Although these athletes are excited to get back onto the track, there are still a lot of unknowns. Their cross country season was moved to the spring when track season usually begins. There’s a lot of confusion on whether or not they will be training for a track season or a cross country season. 

“Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we were not allowed to practice officially as a team, meaning the whole team couldn’t run at practice together under the guidance of our coaches,” says Kuchem. “Some of the restrictions have lifted and we are now able to practice together.”

Before they were allowed to practice without restrictions, cross country athletes took it upon themselves to train in small groups of three to four so they could easily track those who have been exposed if a COVID-19 case popped up. You would find them running around campus, on the track and even up and down Riverside, practicing their teamwork and footwork with gusto.

“We tried to make it a point to get together and run for accountability,” says Kuchem. “We would be in contact with each other and say, “Hey, do you wanna do a workout today, or go for a run?”

Now that cross country is back to practicing in the Aerobics Center, they have done a variety of training to be flexible with the upcoming decision on what type of season they will have. 

“The workouts are a bit more intense than they were while we were training on our own,” says Kuchem. “Because the cross country team doesn’t know what the spring season will look like yet, whether we will be running either cross country or track, we are focusing on getting stronger so we will be prepared for whatever happens.”

What we do know: The cross country/track athletes are resilient. They are able to take on the extra stress and challenges with this “off-season” caused by COVID-19. They are able to adjust and be flexible with their training in order to be prepared for the unknown. Many admire how they can stay light on their feet during this season of hardships.

“I can speak for myself and everyone else, we’re hungry for the first race day and everything that comes with it—the excitement and the nerves,” says Kuchem.