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Cross country workouts reminiscent of the past

While athletic programs across the county massively alter practice routines and schedules because of COVID-19, cross country teams are able to go back to holding practice session as usual with only slight adjustments.

Pearl River Central Cross Country

Head Coach Mike Hindman said that for the most part his team’s summer workouts would be just as they’ve been in summers past.

Often times the runners like running together in close proximity in order to push each other’s paces, but with the new guidelines in place the athletes will have to spread out a little more than normal.

“It’s not going to be that different for cross country other than being really diligent about the runners keeping their spacing. That’s going to be the biggest change will be to get them away from running in pairs,” Hindman said.

The athletes won’t be allowed to share water bottles, and the usual circle formed during stretches will have to be spread out a bit, but otherwise the Blue Devils’ runners will be able to work out like they had before the pandemic.

However, the number of athletes practicing over the summer won’t be reflective of the whole squad because the team hasn’t had tryouts yet.

Hindman said the first workouts coming up in the fall will serve as a test for new athletes who maybe haven’t stayed active during the summer months.

“It’ll mostly affect new kids who weren’t part of the team before. With cross country, typically kids who enjoy or don’t mind running will keep up with it,” Hindman said.

The athletes who were proactive will likely have an easier time adjusting to the intensity of the fall workouts.

Hindman said returning runners know what is expected of them and have the desire to improve.

“Summer workouts are designed to get kids who are that motivated into shape early and kind of get a head start,” Hindman said.

In order for athletics to restart there would have to be certain guidelines and restrictions in place.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association made it clear what was expected of programs if they wanted to resume practices, so Hindman has made sure all of his athletes abide by the rules.

“I had a feeling it would affect our summer so no big surprise there. Everybody is in the same boat,” Hindman said.

Poplarville Boys Cross Country

The Hornets will take the more individualistic approach when it comes to preparing cross country athletes for the fall season.

The team hasn’t yet had a tryout, so Head Coach Luke Gipson will be having returning athletes work on their individual conditioning until a tryout can occur.

“The good thing with cross country is they can get their miles in at home. The plan right now is to get in touch with those from last year and in August have it open up for tryout,” Gipson said.

While some programs may see the turnout affected by the pandemic, Gipson isn’t worried.

Even in years past the tryout wouldn’t take place until school started up, so the likelihood of having a regular sized squad remains high.

Gipson said even though he wasn’t able to drum up interest for his program prior to the cancellation of sports, he’s not worried about the possibility of athletes not joining up.

“I’m not worried about that part. I think they’ll come out. This is my third year as the cross country coach and in years past they’ve waited until August to tryout anyway,” Gipson said.