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Bishop O’Dowd continues to build cross country program amidst pandemic

Photo courtesy of Bishop O'Dowd Athletics
Photo courtesy of Bishop O'Dowd Athletics

The COVID-19 pandemic was negative for all sports, but cross country was one of the few that it had some positive impacts on. The Bishop O’Dowd cross country team was not able to meet in person from March to October. Once they were cleared in October, the team met regularly to be able to maintain the runners’ base, so they can compete when the time comes.

Head coach Hillary Kigar saw many of her runners take advantage of the down-time they were given during the pandemic. The great thing about cross country is that you can run anytime and anywhere. For seven months it was on the runners to stay on top of their own fitness.

“Obviously we wish things would have been normal, but it has been a great opportunity for some kids,” Kigar said. “When there is no race that you are training for, do you still have that motivation to get out there and train?”

Senior Ryan Wright is one of the runners that Kigar says stands out after the pandemic. Wright has taken full advantage of all the solo training time he has been able to log. Wright showed a lot of diligence during the pandemic to really improve his running abilities. He has currently been talking to multiple collegiate programs about what the next year will look like for him and is very excited about these conversations.

“Ryan has done such an incredible job the last 10 months with so much solo training,” Kigar said. “He has gotten to another level of fitness.”

With the pandemic, Bishop O’Dowd has not been able to compete in any regular events, like all sports. However, they are one of the few that have still been able to compete in a modified way. The team has recorded individual time trials for their runners and put the times up against other teams. While this is a great opportunity for the runners to compete during this time, it is still tough for the team. A huge part of cross country races is competing against the runners around you. This really makes the runners have to compete against themselves while doing the time trials. 

The Bishop O’Dowd program believes in coaching the whole of each individual runner and not just coaching the team. They realize that each person is different and needs to be coached in different ways to reach their full potential. Coaching like this has surely been a factor when it comes to runners improving their fitness level during the shutdown.

Whether a somewhat normal season occurs this year or not, the Bishop O’Dowd cross country team plans on surprising some people with their times. The team is ready to show the work they have put in over the last several months.

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