Aliso Cross Country Starts the Delayed Season Strong

Cassidy Lo, Staff Writer

On Saturday Feb. 8, Aliso Niguel Cross Country held the first sports event of the school year against Dana Hills. The competitors ran the trail along Aliso Creek on a 3- mile course, excited to finally start their season. This was one of the first sporting events in the state since the start of the pandemic, catching the attention of ABC News and The OC Register.

  In previous years, cross country has been a fall sport with competition beginning in August or September. However, due to the pandemic and stay at home orders, the season has been delayed until now. Due to Governor Newsom’s lift on COVID restrictions, sports like cross country are now ready to commence. 

  Although sports are starting again, there are still limitations. Traditionally, there are over 100 runners for each race, but the races on Saturday only consisted of, at most, 15 runners each. In addition, the audience was limited to immediate family members of each competitor. 

  This reduction in runners may actually be a blessing in disguise. Sankulp Shastri (11) stated that it, in fact, “made [him] work a lot harder.” The fewer competitors, the greater the pressure to come in first. 

  Despite the ensuing pandemic, the runners felt relatively safe. The onlookers did their best to social distance when not getting distracted cheering on their children, classmates, and siblings. The runners kept their masks on for the entirety of the event and only removed them when running. 

  Shastri added that he misses “the liveliness of each meet” before the pandemic. While another student, Reese Raygoza (11), did not have the opportunity to participate, but cheered on her teammates from the sidelines. She commented “Even though we can race now, it makes such a huge difference when there are large crowds watching you and the overall race environment really motivates you to do your best.”

  It is safe to say that many runners can agree that having a large, cheering crowd and group of opponents, especially in the final stretch of the course can make a huge impact: something we may not see for a while, but we can aspire to achieve.