Cross Country Teams Complete Their First Time Trial

Samira Kassem

The women’s and men’s teams are making the best of their canceled season with inner-team time trials and practices. 

Photo: Matthew Wagner

The men’s and women’s cross country teams are one of several IWU sports teams that have had their seasons canceled due to COVID-19. 

Despite the disappointment of canceled competition, the teams continue to practice together. 

In order to track their progress, Coach Greg Huffaker held a time trial last Friday, September 11.

Both teams were able to get the experience of racing and see the results of their hard work at practices. 

Although they were not able to compete in their normal 6,000 meters for women and 8,000 meters for men, the team ran a 3200-meter race against their teammates here on the Illinois Wesleyan track. 

The teams are led by two captains each, Katie North ‘21 and Alexis Dorsey ‘22 on the women’s side and Jadeon Danko ‘21 and Matthew Wagner ‘21 on the men’s side. 

North is thankful for the coaching staff and her teammates during these turbulent times and appreciated the time trial competition for the sense of normalcy it brings.  

“I think it’s really important, and we’re really lucky that we get to be together and practice as a team.”

“I think it’s special that we have a coaching staff that is so ready and willing to set up events for us to compete and feel some sort of normalcy, even if it’s virtual competitions.”

“The current state of the world is really just proving how resilient runners can really be. Rain, wind, snow, global pandemic, and we’re still out there getting it done” North said. 

Alexis Dorsey agrees that in a time of such uncertainty, IWU has provided her with a team that she can rely on. 

“After having the outdoor track season canceled, the only thing that kept me motivated was getting back to racing with my team in the fall for cross country. We come together as a team in August, but our season and hard work start way before that with summer mileage/training.” 

“A lot of hard work was put in this summer and while we aren’t able to show everyone what we’ve accomplished, we are still getting it done and becoming better together. This season is definitely different, but I think we are doing the best we can under the circumstances given. We will continue putting in the hard work so when the time comes we are ready” Dorsey said. 

On the men’s side, the optimism continues as the senior captains lead younger members and remind them that they are, as coach Huffaker always says, “better together.” 

Photo: Matthew Wagner

Captain Jadeon Danko is proud of the efforts the team has put forth during the summer and so far in the fall. 

“I know if we had a regular-season a lot of teams should be scared. We are going to be good when the time comes to do an 8k” Danko said. 

The other men’s captain, Matthew Wagner, is also very proud of all that the team has accomplished.

“Everyone has worked their tails off on a daily basis putting in hundreds of miles over the summer and I could not be prouder. The team’s perseverance through these unprecedented times has been unmatched. It’s special being able to be around a group of people where whatever you throw at them they will turn it into positivity and an opportunity to get better” Wagner said.

The team holds on to hope that they will be able to compete in the winter and the spring.

“We are hoping to have a chance to have a winter and spring season. I am really excited to see what we can do as a team because we have the potential to finish closer to the top of the CCIW than we have in a very long time” the captains said. 

The teams have no plans to stop running together during the pandemic and will continue team practices and time trials as long as the university will allow.