Girls Cross Country Seniors Make The Best of It

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Mia Pantano ('21)

Senior girls on the cross country team were honored, in socially distant fashion, before last Saturday’s meet.

Mia Pantano ('21), Orbit Contributor

Seniors on the RMHS Girls Cross Country team have remained positive while struggling with the shortening of their final season, and weighed in on how practices and meets have changed with new MIAA fall sports regulations due to COVID-19.

The beginning of the 2020 fall sports season at RMHS has been like no other and has posed all kinds of new challenges. The MIAA has been tasked with safely bringing back athletics to Massachusetts high schools and has modified each individual sport with different regulations. Cross country, among all other fall sports, has a shortened season, which devastated many senior athletes. Specifically on the RMHS Girls Cross Country team, they have started to feel the effects of the modified season, but are trying to stay positive and make the best of the “new normal”.

When I read the email that explained we would have no bus rides or pasta parties, it really hit me.”

— Carolyn Narahara ('21)

The atmosphere of practices has changed significantly, as athletes are required to wear masks at all times during practices, maintain social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines, and are limited to a strict 90 minutes of practice time. I asked senior athletes on the team, some who have been on the team for all four years of high school, what the biggest challenges have been with the COVID-19 regulations and what differences to this season have affected them the most.

The effects of this year’s unique cross country season have taken an emotional toll on the seniors, especially those who have been a member for all four years of high school. Senior captain Olivia Pineau recalls the moment when she truly realized that the season would be different. She said, “It really hit me on the first day when our coach told us we had to wear masks at all times during our run.” Senior captain Carolyn Narahara recalls her moment of realization as well, saying “When I read the email that explained we would have no bus rides or pasta parties, it really hit me. To me, these two things add to the fun environment of cross country, so it was heartbreaking to know we won’t get to have them.”    

More positively, senior captain Erin Mulvey had this to say on this season so far: “My brother runs for a different school nearby and his season got cancelled, so when I heard that news, I felt like cross country may not happen at all. Even though it is different, I am so thankful for the opportunity to come together a few times a week as a team to do what we love. It makes these difficult times a little easier and even though it is not a typical season it helps to feel like there is still a sense of normalcy at least in one aspect of life.”

With masks now being required for practice, many team members have found them difficult to wear at all times, especially while running. But they have expressed respect for the requirement and understand the severity of the virus.  Narahara had this to say about wearing a mask during practice: “I am still getting used to having to wear it during races or challenging workouts, but I know it is completely necessary for the safety of everyone.” Mulvey, Pineau, and senior Kiara Tangney share the same sentiment. “It’s annoying but it makes me feel safer, and I know it’s the only way we can have practice during a pandemic and keep everyone as safe as possible,” Tangney says.

Even though it is different, I am so thankful for the opportunity to come together a few times a week as a team to do what we love.”

— Erin Mulvey ('21)

With the cross country season already short enough as it is, team members are also concerned about the remaining few weeks. According to the Community-Level Data Map provided by Mass.gov, towns surrounding Reading have recently had spikes of COVID-19 cases, causing the cancellation of cross country meets. Reading was scheduled to race against Woburn on October 17th, however it was cancelled 3 days before due to Woburn having an increase of positive cases and felt it was best to call it off. While upset, the seniors have taken a more positive approach to the unfortunate news and have remained hopeful. Tangey said, “I really feel like it’s out of everyone’s control and we have to take it as it comes, just like everything else.” Narahara also added, “We have only had one meet so far and I am hoping that we are able to have the rest of the scheduled meets. I think if everyone respects the guidelines, we shouldn’t have anymore canceled meets.” 

While the atmosphere of the Girls Cross Country team is different this year, especially for the seniors, they still are grateful to be able to practice despite having a short season. They are heartbroken about not being able to enjoy certain aspects of the team environment and are finding difficulties with new regulations due to the pandemic, but they are definitely making the best of an uncertain situation and enjoying the time they have together regardless.