Hilltopper cross country team faces challenges while navigating COVID-19 regulations

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Coach Justin Simpson

The 2020 cross-country team comes together to share in a photo. Even though the teams meets have thrown a wrench in their season that’s not stopping them from becoming a close team.

WLU cross-country team runs with COVID’s challenges
By: Morgan Kafana

For some, the ability to attend college while also participating in their favorite sport is a dream. However, athletes such as the 2020 cross-country team didn’t plan for COVID-19 to affect their season like it has.
The cross-country team began their season in August with Coach Justin Simpson who has been the head track and field and cross-country coach at West Liberty University for four and a half years.
COVID-19 pandemic has canceled their 2020 season so far. As a result, this has been extremely tough mentally on the team as they have to miss out on competitions. However, this has forced the coaching team to get creative as a staff to make sure that the team is getting the work and stimulus they need. Because of the pandemic, all track and cross country meets have been canceled this semester but that hasn’t stopped coach Simpson from providing the athletes cross-country experience.
To keep up enthusiasm and competitive spirit, “What I have done is create a series called Friday Night Under the Lights,” said Simpson. Every two weeks, the team has different races at the universities track facility so that they can feel like they are having a season. Simpson does hope that the team can get the chance to compete in a safe way since some NCAA Division I conferences are competing right now and are showing how meets could be handled safely.
Jonathan Stout, a freshman at West Liberty, decided to join the track team to maximize his skills as a runner, have fun and stay in shape. Stout has been involved in the sport for five years and expressed that he is excited to have the chance to run at the collegiate level. “I hope track gives me some lifelong friends and the building blocks for lifelong fitness,” he said.
Simpson hopes that the university will be able to hold track events in the spring, but only time will tell. Even though their season isn’t going exactly as they planned, the cross-country team is still making an effort to make the best out of their season.