Cross country team continues to train amid pandemic

Jackson Buss

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Photo courtesy of Henry Sheppard

Junior Andrew Schell and Senior Alex Scott running at last year’s Cross Country County Meet.

Despite Montgomery County not allowing school fall sports, the Walter Johnson cross country team has continued to safely train and practice on their own. They make sure to keep their numbers small at training and are all responsible outside of practice to ensure each other’s safety.

Senior team captain Alex Scott has been leading these unofficial practices.

“I’m glad I was able to reach out and convince a lot of people to start running and I’m glad that a lot of people on the team are willing to be training,” Scott said. “I felt responsible to get everyone together just because Marty (Thomas Martin, our coach) couldn’t really do that because we didn’t know what he was allowed to do and I know he had a busy summer.”

Senior Adam Morad was planning to have a great season and hopes that he still can despite Covid-19. Morad trains with the WJ team and is also part of a running club outside of school.

“It was really important for me to keep training because I wanna have a really great season and even though the pandemic is going on I think If I keep working hard I can achieve my goals,“ Morad said. “It’s really great to still be able to practice and train with some of the guys on the team and I think that practicing together is really important because they push me to work harder and run faster and we all push each other, and I think training with the team will help me reach my goal of 10 minutes for the 2-mile.”

On Sunday, September 27, the boys participated in their first meet in a while. They ran the five kilometer race that is standard for cross country. They were all really excited to finally compete again.

“It was nice to race, especially against other people, it felt a little bit normal and hopefully we get to keep racing because it’s a great way to test our practices and workouts,” Scott said.

Sophomore Ben Dutko had been training on his own during quarantine, but without the team and actual races he felt he wasn’t sure where he was and how much he was improving. So, despite not being able to race in the meet he was grateful to get the opportunity to do a time trial.

“The time trial felt good and it was nice to have a baseline,” Dutko said.

Despite only having eight runners in the 5k race that included nearly 100, three WJ runners finished in the top 10. Junior Andrew Schell finished third overall with a time of 17 minutes and 10 seconds, Scott finished 27 seconds after in sixth place and Morad came in 10th with a time of 18 minutes and 8 seconds. While they all finished last year with significantly faster times, they are all glad where they are now as it is just the beginning of the season.

After finishing third in counties last year, assuming there is a season, the Wildcats are poised to have an even stronger season this year with Scott, Schell and Morad leading the way along with a strong group of sophomores.

Scott has big goals for this season despite the pandemic, as he wants to make his senior year count.

“I’d love to race in a state meet, in some capacity, and the goal is to finish top ten in that and run sub 16:00 for the 5k,” Scott said.

Until Montgomery County allows for a season, the Wildcats will continue their unofficial practices in hopes of a season this year.