Just like every year, Waukesha South Boys Cross Country started their season on the third Monday of August and ended their season in late October. What happened between those dates, however, was far from ordinary – thanks to the five characters that have defined 2020, COVID.
According to Head Coach Darrell Gramdorf, a normal season has nine meets (outside of the state meet). Each meet tends to have 10-25+ teams, with most meets having 200 runners in each race. This year, however, there were only five meets, with three of them being triangular (3 teams) and two of them being conference meets. Each of the races at these meets was reduced in size to meet group gathering guidelines set by the CDC (50 people at most). Although the reduction in the number of meets and size of meets was disappointing for the team, it wasn't the biggest disappointment of the season. Senior team member Tyler Ky said,
"We didn’t [have] the awesome pasta dinners and other team bonding activities. As a senior it is disappointing not being able to do the cross country traditions for the last time."
This was a consistent theme when talking to team members; while it was disheartening they didn't have as many meets, the biggest disappointment was an inability to do a lot of their team traditions this year.
Nevertheless, COVID restrictions did not prevent the team from having a strong season. Senior Jonathon Acosta stated,
"A lot of us set PRs and we gave it our all this season... we all did a great job and had a ton of fun even though COVID-19 placed a lot of restrictions on us."
The team as a whole ended on a strong note: 16 out of 21 (76%) runners set a personal best on their last race of the season. Their performance near the end of the season has also given senior captain, Austin Sanderfoot, hope for the future:
"I think our team had a very good performance this year, as our performance at the end of this season sets us up to have an excellent season next year, with six out of our top seven varsity runners returning, and three of those with times under 18 minutes as of sectionals."
Success for this team this season however wasn't determined by their times, but instead by the fact they had times. In a fall season where many teams across the state and country weren't able to complete their season (or even have a season), South's boys cross country team was able to finish their season without missing a meet. Junior captain Owen Antholine stated,
"I think our team took many precautions that many other teams around the state did not take ... to ensure that we could finish our season, each member of our team had to wear masks when the team was not running, including directly before and after races and workouts, and many of our workouts we ran in pairs to avoid having lots of people miss meets if there was an outbreak."
This type of forward-thinking allowed the team to only have three athletes quarantined the entire season.
Overall, this season certainly was not normal for the team. Like every other high school sports team in the country, they faced numerous challenges to get their season started and then to keep it going. They proved though that they were up to the challenge and then some, not just completing the season, but also setting PRs in the process.