By Randi Pierce
The second and only other fall sport for Pagosa Springs High School will return to action tomorrow, with the Pirate cross-country teams heading to Dolores for the Boggy Draw Bear Chase.
But it, like many other sports for the upcoming school year, has been modified to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“I think it’s going to be a really good year,” said Rachael Christiansen, the team’s new coach, who pointed out, “Obviously it’s a little crazy with COVID, but I think we have some really awesome leadership on this team, which I’m relying heavily on to get everyone through the season, from our new people and all the way up.”
Last year, the Pirates took 17th at state and their Lady Pirate counterparts returned home having placed 15th, with 20 teams competing on each side.
Christiansen reported there are 30-35 people on the team right now, but that number could go up once school starts.
Of that, she explained, only three are brand new to the sport and usually play a different sport in the fall, and about a dozen returning runners have stepped into leadership roles.
“We have a lot of new freshmen coming up, too, so that’s exciting,” she pointed out, with several being strong runners. “I think they’ll be very good runners with a little bit of time and practice.”
Under the modifications made to the sport this year due to coronavirus, only five varsity runners will be able to attend meets for each team, with a total of 50 runners allowed per gender.
Additionally, each runner can compete in seven meets, and the starting and fishing lines at meets will be different.
Those modifications, Christiansen explained, may mean the teams participate in more smaller meets to allow runners to compete, which she acknowledged separates the runners out more — something she wouldn’t do if she had a choice.
Runners, she explained, will compete in time trials at practice to determine the five who will compete at that week’s varsity meet.
But, despite COVID, Christiansen noted her approach is still the same.
“My philosophy as a coach is to help every single athlete on my team.”
And, she shared, the team’s message since the beginning has been to take nothing for granted.
“We’re thankful we are able to run,” she said, adding later, “Not every sport can say that right now.”
The following schedule was accurate as of Wednesday, but is subject to change.
Following this weekend’s meet in Dolores, the Pirates will head to Cortez for the Ancient Trails meet on Aug. 28, with the meet beginning at 4 p.m.
On Sept. 4, the teams will participate in the Alamosa Invite at 9 a.m., and on Sept. 12 will head to the Joe Vigil Meet at Adams State University, which is slated to begin at 8 a.m.
On Sept. 19, the teams will head to Bayfield for an 8 a.m. start.
The teams will host their home meet on the Sept. 25 beginning at 3 p.m.
Regionals are set to take place Oct. 9 in Bayfield, followed by the state meet on Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.