WOODBRIDGE — For the first time in nearly seven months school sports are back. Amity, Wilbur Cross, Hillhouse and Career Magnet returned for a cross country meet on Thursday at Fitzgerald Trail.
Like other sports starting up again, competition looks a bit different this year due to pandemic precautions.
Before and after races athletes are consistently wearing masks, there are no parents or fans in attendance, teams are separated at the start and social distancing is in the back of everybody’s mind.
“Just being here it kind of feels back to normal other than the masks,” Amity girls coach Sean Mahon said. “It is nice to take them off when you get to the starting line, kind of break free. Maybe it makes them run faster and maybe it doesn’t.”
Though the masks are the most visible difference, the consensus seems to be that they make little to no difference when it comes to race time.
“Masks are not that big of a deal because we would be doing the same thing practicing in New Haven,” Wilbur Cross boys coach Travis Gale said. “The courses are still outside, you’re still running on the dirt, the rocks and the roots so it isn’t that big of a difference.”
In fact for many, wearing masks at events is beginning to even feel normal.
Photo: Will Aldam / Hearst Connecticut Media
Image 1 11
“It is good to see the kids run and we were looking better than I thought we would look,” Hillhousecoach Michele Moore said. “The masks are the only real difference but the kids aren’t complaining about it as long as they can jog without them on. I guess we’re getting used to it.”
Some have even looked for silver linings within the masks.
“I noticed one thing about the mask today when our one coach was speaking with them prior to the race,” Mahon said. “You can really see the intensity in their eyes, they are highlighted. I would say that’s a positive thing of the masks and was really interesting to observe.”
The most noted difference by the runners was the fact that there is no fan support allowed at events.
“I wouldn’t say there is much of a difference with the races,” individual boys winner Mason Beaudette said. “I know we have to social distance, but I kind of miss the crowds. It is a whole different feeling when you’re running in front of a bunch of people even though its high school. It feels great to run and have people cheer you on and I miss that.”
Amity swept the meet, taking the team victory for both the boys and girls race behind first place finishes of Beaudette (17:10) and sophomore Nell Grant (21:24).
“It feels great, I really missed racing and that adrenaline you feel,” Beaudette said. “It sucked losing my outdoor season but I came back better, stronger and ready for a new season.”
“I haven’t raced in a really long time so this was great,” Grant said. “It is a little different because everybody has to warm up in different cohorts, but other than that it’s pretty much the same.”
The win is a strong start for an Amity team that has seen some changes with a new boys coach and an inability to train on its home course.
“I actually haven’t coached Cross Country since 2013 so it has been a while,” Amity boys coach Chris Elledge said. “It feels good to be back out there but the biggest differences for us are not being able to practice on our own course because it is a city park. We weren’t allowed to come out here and neither were the other teams earlier in the week.”
For all in attendance however, the overarching takeaway is athletes and coaches are glad to be competing again.
“It is great for the kids and it is awesome to be back out here,” Gale said. “Cross Country is a low risk sports and I think everybody was ready for that and I am thankful for Amity putting this together.”
Amity 23, Wilbur Cross 38 (at Amity): 1. Mason Beaudette (A) 17:10; 2. Nakita Omelchenko(WC) 18:00; 3. Wolf Boone (WC) 18:45; 4. Brodey Lu (A) 18:51; 5. Michael Haverstock (A) 19:19; 6. Christian Chen (A) 19:28; 7. Parker Paragas (A) 19:32; 8. Colby O’Connor (A) 19:33; 9. Adarsh Kongani (A) 19:55; 10. Nolan Smith (A) 19:59. Records: Amity 1-0, Wilbur Cross 0-1.
Amity 16, Wilbur Cross 42, Hillhouse 45 (at Amity): 1. Nell Grant (A) 21:24; 2. Aviva Wyner (A) 21:28; 3. Ariann Garay (A) 21:30; 4. Margo Pedersen (WC) 21:32; 5. Xochitl Sanchez (WC) 22:11; 6. Caroline Chen (A) 22:30; 7. Bernedette Karpel (H) 22:42; 8. Allison Su (A) 23:50; 9. Kayla Blackwell (H) 24:04; 10. Hebbar Shreya (A) 24:32. Records: Amity 2-0, Wilbur Cross 1-1, Hillhouse 0-2.
Please go to New Haven Register Sports to read full article.