By KELLEN STEPLER
Runners are a lot like the Post Office carriers – sun, rain, cold or whatever might arise, they just keep on running.
So, it’s no surprise that during the COVID-19 pandemic and with fall sports in a weird state of limbo, the Chambersburg cross country team continues to do what it does best: run.
“The world is scary right now,” Trojan senior Keira Whitehead said. “Running’s hard, but it helps relieve stress.”
School districts across the Commonwealth used the summer to create guidelines to return to interscholastic sports, and the Mid Penn Conference decided to push the start of official fall sports practices until Sept. 4. Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a “recommendation” to postpone high school sports until Jan. 1, and the PIAA paused mandatory fall sports activities for two weeks, as it will reconvene Aug. 21.
“Running clears your mind; it helps me stop thinking about everything else going on in the world,” senior Brayden Boyd said. “I’m just hoping there’s a season and that we’ll be able to race, no matter what restrictions are put in place.”
The sport also serves as a stress reliever to Trojan teammate Dakota Strait.
“With everything going on, I look forward to running,” Strait said. “(Trojan boys cross country coach John Ambrosio) always preaches mental toughness – and that applies outside of cross country, as well. When you’re running, you’ve got to suck it up, and that applies to events in today’s world that are out of our control.”
The cross country team is allowed to officially meet only three times a week before mandatory practices can begin. Strait noted that in a normal year, mandatory six-day-a-week practices would have started by now.
“Do I think there will be a season? Yes,” Strait said. “Will it be normal? No.”
As information surrounding the COVID situation changes constantly, athletes across the state are glued to social media to pick up the latest news.
“Every time something new comes out, I check on Twitter and see what’s happening,” Boyd said. “I get nervous; you never know what they’ll say, or when they’ll say it.”
“I watch every board meeting, to make sure we can still practice together,” Whitehead said. “I also keep up with PIAA news.”
A benefit of running is that it is an individual, socially-distant sport, but also with a team-focused mentality.
“Running’s a thing where no matter what, you can still do it,” Boyd said. “With running, you just need a pair of shoes.”
“My teammates keep me going,” Whitehead said. “I want to do well in cross country and have a good season, and our coach (Chris Monheim) is keeping us positive.”