Despite all the uncertainty that has been circulating amongst PCC sports teams, due to the relentless COVID-19 virus that has drastically changed college athletics, the runners and coaches of the cross-country team continue to hope for the best and wait patiently for what the Spring 2021 season has in store.
The head coach of the cross-country team Innocent Egbunike, explained that even though things are at a standstill, cross-country athletes have been encouraged to keep a sense of motivation to stay in shape and hope for a better tomorrow.
“We are hoping to have a spring season come January, we have just been waiting to hear from the state for approval,” Coach Egbunike said.
PCC coaches and administrators have worked together to make sure everything is in place. Schedules have been made, and safety guidelines have been created for each individual sport, in preparation to have a face-to-face season.
“The best way to put it is we’re going to follow the NCAA and CDC guidelines,” coach Egbunike said. “As well as the guidelines that each coach had to work on during the summer for their own individual sports teams. The administration has looked at it and everything looks good and ready to go.”
In the end, it is not PCC’s decision to resume in-person contact amongst sports teams for the upcoming Spring 2021 season. The sports programs have to work according to the state’s guidelines and instructions.
“I just turned in the track and field schedule two days ago and the cross-country schedule last month,” coach Egbunike said. “Now we are waiting patiently for the decisions to be made for us to have a good season. It is not in my hands whatever happens has to be decided by the CDC and the state’s administration, and until then that is what we have to abide by.”
It has not been confirmed when PCC sports can utilize on-campus facilities again. For cross-country athletes, that means the Robinson field will remain closed for training and team practices indefinitely.
For now, the athletes in cross-country meet virtually on zoom, Monday through Thursday to talk about which workouts the team will decide to do individually around their own neighborhoods.
Olivia Ruiz is a sophomore PCC student and mid-distance runner on the cross-country team who hopes that athletes can soon reunite safely in person for weekly group runs.
“There are a lot of new people in cross-country this year, and there hasn’t been a lot of team bonding in a sense because of this pandemic, but hopefully in January if practices do start we could safely bond and run together,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz mentioned that the team has been trying to meet up at a local park and socially distance run together but have been unsuccessful due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now that California governor Gavin Newsom announced another stay-at-home-order to go into effect this month, meeting as a team isn’t practical.
Ruiz plans to stay active and continues to better herself through the upcoming Spring 2021 season. She has remained motivated to be a cross-country runner this far through the pandemic by keeping the future of her collegiate athletic career in mind.
“I’ve lost my motivation numerous times,” Ruiz said. “I’ve honestly just had to really dig deep within myself to find the motivation, and really just look at the future of how I want to get better, and how what I’m doing now will make me better in shape for when things do get back to normal.”
Ruiz aspires to break the current record for the track and field 800 race at PCC, which has been held by Tracee Van der Wyk since 2011. Another one of Ruiz’s goals for both track and cross-country, is to eventually be able to successfully make it to the state championship.
“The first year I ran cross country we had state which is the highest level of racing,” Ruiz said. “But I know they are talking about canceling it only because it’s up North and traveling right now is a little difficult because of COVID. I’m really hoping and praying that during this upcoming season I’m able to do it, that’s basically my goal and why my motivation is to keep working out virtually now.”
Hugo Muñoz is a freshman at PCC, who has been on the cross-country team since last fall. During summer vacation, Muñoz saw the perfect opportunity to put the work and the mileage in, to ensure that he is physically and mentally prepared for future cross-country races and tournaments. He explained how important it is as an athlete to always be ready for the worst possible scenario.
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