Girls’ cross country deals with coach change and adapts to pandemic rules

March 11, 2021 — by Vicky Bai and Serena Li
Strata run

The team holds practice together every other day and uses Strava app to record students’ individual runs.

The cross country season started on Feb. 8 with a new coach and new guidelines to keep runners safe during the pandemic. 

Coach Archie Ljepava replaced Danny Moon as the coach for the girls’ team since Moon is older and was unable to take on the position this year due to his high risk for the effects of COVID-19. The boys’ team is led by coach Ian Tippetts. 

“I will definitely miss Coach Moon a lot this year, but I agree that it's safer for him not to coach given his age and the COVID-19 situation,” junior Cheryl Wu said. 

Following the long layoff, the team restarted its regular practices to prepare for meets. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the team has trained with the coaches on the track, with the varsity team starting at 2:45 p.m. and the JV team starting at 4:15 p.m. A typical practice consists of a two-lap warmup on the track, stretching drills, running drills, and a cool down. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, athletes record their own runs. 

“When we are running we take off our masks because we stay 6 feet apart,” senior captain Charlotte Shewchuk said. “For the days without team practice, runners have to record their own runs on the Strava app to track the mile splits, inclines and the whole course for the coaches to monitor.” 

The team had their first meet on Feb. 24 against Santa Clara, and was scheduled to have two more during the rest of the season, which ends March 26. Masks were required at all times except when running 6 feet apart. In the Santa Clara matchup, the varsity boys won 20-41 and the varsity girls won 15-46. The frosh-soph boys won 23-32 and the JV girls won 15-40 (in cross country, scores are calculated by adding the rankings of each athlete on a team during the meet. Therefore, the lower score wins). 

“Everyone is doing a good job following the COVID-19 restrictions so far. For the last meet, all the runners had to leave right after they ran, which is a little sad because we couldn’t cheer on our teammates,” Shewchuk said. “The most difficult thing at the meet was having to micromanage to be sure that runners were six feet apart.”

Now that the county has entered the red tier, teammates will be able to stay the entire meet to cheer each other during the two remaining meets, both of which take place at Saratoga High School. 

“My favorite part of cross country is running every day, so I wouldn't be super upset if we aren't able to have a  meet,” Wu said. “I'm sure whoever it is that decides these things will make the right decision for the current situation.”