As long as Louisiana is in Phase 2, athletes at the starting line will not be able to bunched up like they are doing in this photo. Starting in September, there will only be 25 athletes at a time at the starting line. The athletes will have to be six-feet apart from one another when they line up.
Cross Country meets will be different
Since March, things have not been the same in the sports world. But starting in September, sports will begin to return slowly.
Cross country will be one of the first to return, along with swimming on Aug. 31. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association recently issued a list of new rules to maintain safety at cross country meets.
Cross country coaches throughout Acadiana have been talking about ways to run a meet while implementing the guidelines from the LHSAA.
“We are excited and ready to go,” said Erath cross country coach “Skeeter” Theall. “We missed track in March, so it feels like we are starting over.”
In a way, cross country coaches, runners, and parents are starting over because of how the meet will be run.
There will be several visible changes, including no mass starts. The current options are starting the race in groups of 25 with a starting line wide enough (10 feet wide) for athletes to be 6-feet apart.
Before COVID-19, it was nothing for one cross country meet to have more than 125 runners bunched up at the starting line. Each team has seven runners, and it was common to have 15 teams at an invitational meet.
The first cross country meets are on Sept. 5. In the past, schools would take turns playing host to cross country meets. Because of the restrictions of meet sizes, there will be at least two cross country meets in Acadiana on the same weekend.
On Sept. 5, Erath is hosting a cross country meet, while St. Thomas More is also hosting a meet. Each cross country meet will have only eight teams.
The coaches have agreed to have two starting times for the male and female runners.
There will be a Group A with only 25 runners and a Group B race with around the same amount of runners.
The finish line and the starting line will also be separate.
Another change is that each runner will only be allowed to have two supporters. When Group A is finished running, the runners’ spectators must leave the running area to let Group B runners’ spectators watch.
When the girls are finished racing, no family members can hang around and watch the boys run. Everyone must leave.
The LHSAA has nixed the usual awards ceremony after the meet, and attendance will be limited to two fans per athlete. Masks will be required for all in attendance when not able to socially distance. The lone exception will be for athletes when they are competing.
Because of the fear of COVID-19, Erath has one of its smallest teams in years. There are eight males and eight females running for Erath.
Kaplan cross country coach Amelia Broussard is glad that cross country coaches from the state and Acadiana have figured out how to make it work.
“I am extremely proud of how hard the Acadiana cross country coaches have been working to make this season possible for our athletes,” said Broussard.
The Kaplan cross country team has four males and four female runners, which Broussard said is average.
“I am very excited for this cross country season,” said Broussard. “I have been telling the athletes that our season looks the most promising, so give your all in training and represent the school well.”