Heritage Christian Academy running athletes making due

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

In a time of social distancing the necessity for athletes to find safe ways to continue working out is paramount so the runners at Heritage Christian Academy are doing just that.

John Stricker, Head Coach of the cross country and track and field programs at HCA, said his athletes stopped working out in large groups to try and cut down on the potential of spreading COVID-19.

Instead of running in groups, the athletes would run on opposite sides of empty roads to continue getting their workout in while not putting themselves or others at risk.

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However, even those types of workouts have halted with runners instead working out on their own while recording their miles for Stricker.

“I’m still communicating with some that are still running. They put in as many they can, then we have a little group where we report miles in for the week,” Stricker said.

Stricker’s son Dallas is a seventh grade runner for HCA and has been hard at work with his father during the closure of schools.

Stricker said there are several courses they run in order to keep Dallas in racing shape, but to break up the monotony Dallas has come up with some inventive workouts himself.

“Dallas on his own hooked up an electric car (similar to a Power Wheels), tied rope to it and was pulling it up and down the dirt road. It wasn’t in the workout plan, but sure was a good workout,” Stricker said.

The workouts are meant to be intense in preparation for the competition Stricker’s athletes will eventually go up against.

Stricker said his son has been running against varsity high school athletes for two years, meaning since Dallas was in fifth grade he has been competing against athletes who are years older.

The situation is similar for all of the athletes Stricker has on the team who are in sixth grade and above.

Sixth grade is the minimum age requirement for independent school athletes to compete against high school athletes, and Stricker uses the high level competition to prepare his athletes for when they’re in high school.

“Some kids, when they compete in their first high school meet, they’ll be really nervous, but once you’ve been there it’s not a big deal. The nerves won’t get you,” Stricker said.

However, there are some athletes who still need to improve to be competitive at the varsity level, so Stricker will move them down into the junior varsity or middle school level to get them more experience.

Once an athlete does well in a specific level, and has gained some confidence, Stricker will elevate them to the next tier until the athlete is competing against varsity talent.

“If you find out it’s discouraging a kid to run in varsity you put them in JV and mentally it does something to them. They’re more motivated because they have a chance to come in first or second,” Stricker said.