IWU cross country competes in first virtual CCIW championships

Andrew Zienty

Senior Katie North led the pack for the women at the first virtual CCIW Cross Country championships.
Photo: IWU Athletics via Facebook

In the age of COVID-19, sports have been forced to adapt to strict protocols and circumstances to allow them to compete. The cross country teams are fortunate enough to be in a non-contact sport that allowed for a virtual CCIW championship this past Friday, October 29.

With fall seasons canceled by the CCIW, the meet marked the first inter-conference, multi-team competition of the year.

The normal cross country championships include an inter-conference meet with all schools in the CCIW competing on the same laid-out track with a varied running surface, otherwise known as a cross country course. These courses often include grassy surfaces as well as hills and wooded areas.  

Since the athletes were unable to compete all on the same course, the virtual meet took place on the track of each individual school. All of the schools in the CCIW have their own standard 400-meter track, which made the results able to be fairly compared among athletes competing at different schools. 

Each team live-streamed their runners on their respective Facebook pages and then reported their athletes’ times to the other coaches in order to unofficially name CCIW champions for the 2020 season.  

While this was an unofficial CCIW 5k (3.1 miles), all schools were still able to compete and send their run times to each other so a victor could be declared.  

Although unconventional, the meet was a success and the athletes were thankful for the opportunity to compete. 

The women’s cross country team was led by senior captain Katie North and junior Jenna Miranda with times of 17:54.1 and 17:58.4 .8, respectively. 

In total, the women’s team brought in two athletes under 18 minutes and two more under 19 minutes. Their fifth runner, first-year Amanda Wilson was right at 20:20.7. In an actual CCIW championship, this pack would be very respectable. 

In the 2019 CCIW championships the women’s team placed fifth and was led by North.

“It’s hard to get into the headspace of competition with no other teams around you but our coaches and teammates do a great job supporting us. Our goal is to be consistent and to be there for the team to create the best environment we can for competition,” North said.

“This isn’t the season we expected to have or wanted to have, but it hasn’t stopped us from putting in the work and being ready.”

COVID-19 did not stop the team from working hard this season. Each runner continued to train and the team competed in an inter-squad time trial earlier this fall. 

“I am really proud of everyone this year, especially our seniors for showing us the importance of never giving up and trusting the process. I think everyone’s main goal right now is just to stay healthy and get ready to compete when the time comes,” junior captain Alexis Dorsey said.

Sophomore Noah Smith led the pack for the men’s team.
Photo: IWU Athletics via Facebook  

The men’s team was led by sophomore Noah Smith and senior captain Matt Wagner earning times of 15:35.7 and 15:49.0 respectively. 

The men’s team saw two athletes under 16 minutes and four more under 17 minutes, also a respectable pack.

“With everything that’s happened to sports this past year, we have a team that is closer together than ever before,” senior captain Matt Wagner said. 

Last year the men’s team finished in sixth place and was led by Steven Raybold who graduated last May. 

“While we need to work on race strategies, specifically the second mile of the races, we were excited to compete this year and thought we could make some noise in the CCIW,” Wagner said.

“If we can’t compete this winter we are due for a huge spring in outdoor track and field,” Wagner said.

Currently, the fate of the indoor season for track-and-field has not been decided upon by the CCIW.

“We are hoping to hold dual meets or tri team meets indoors and have a normal outdoor track and field season,” Wagner said.