Linn-Mar cross country adjusts to new limits during pandemic

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 10:32 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Just like other sports, COVID-19 has changed the high school cross country season with a lot of the big meets being cancelled.

Instead of 16 teams competing in the super meet, which was cancelled last Thursday, Linn-Mar is now hosting smaller meets with one or 2 teams.

“We decided for the safety of our fans and the safety of our girls this was the better option so we have hosted for meets this year,” Emily Burmeister, the girls' coach for Linn-Mar, said.

The repetition has been strange, but it gives the runners a chance to get ready for bigger challenges.

“A lot of races have been canceled so it was good to have a race to be able to do multiple times," Micah Poelett, a senior on the team, said. "It is different but it’s in a good way. It makes me have to push myself so when there’s other competition it’ll be even easier to push myself harder.”

Normally fans pack the finish line but no fans were allowed this time. It was gated off for the safety of the runners. Linn-Mar is doing everything they can to make it to the finish line at state, even wearing masks while they warm up.

“We know COVID is here and we know it’s here to stay,” Burmeister said. “We know what that would do to our season. It would be devastating so we’re still doing temperature checks, we’re warming up with our masks on.”

It’s changed their practice plans, forgoing the large packs of runners you sometimes see running around town.

“We’ve actually split into a JV and varsity training group so I’ve only been training with nine other people instead of 20 or 30," Sarah Murphy, another senior on the team, said. "Sad missing all the rest of my friends but I’m glad we’re being safe.”

After missing track last spring due to the onset of the pandemic, this cross country season is really important for the runners.

“It would be disappointing just knowing we’ve been training since upwards of February just for this with track season being canceled,” Murphy said.

The Linn-Mar girls, led by former state champion Poelett, have their eyes set on winning their first team state title in school history. Poellet finished first Saturday in a blazing-fast 5K time of 17:54.

“I haven’t run under 18 [minutes] since sophomore year, so this is great," Poelett said. "It’s been a goal for us since last year when we got third. We’re hoping to just keep progressing and just keep getting better until the end.”

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