Like most things during this COVID-19 era, just about the only thing that’s certain is uncertainty.
Originally, the Lucerne Valley High School cross country team expected to compete in late December. But then the first meet date was pushed to the beginning of the year. That, too, was canceled.
“We started off late,” Coach Guillermo Betancourt said. “At first we thought our first meet would be Dec. 26, the day after Christmas. With COVID restrictions, they pushed it back and they kept pushing it back.”
Now, after a month-and-a-half delay, the first Cross Valley League meet is scheduled for Tuesday at Riverside Prep with seven teams competing over three separate races.
“The kids are excited,” Coach Betancourt said before the meet.
Here is Tuesday’s race schedule:
- 2 p.m. – Lucerne Valley vs. CIMS vs. University Prep
- 3 p.m. – Silver Valley vs. Excelsior
- 4 p.m. – Big Bear vs. Riverside Prep
Despite not being able to compete until now, the delays have been a mixed blessing for the Mustang runners. The team began workouts at the end of October, so the runners have had an opportunity to work on their conditioning for four months prior to the upcoming competition.
“They do enjoy coming out and running in that respect,” Betancourt said. “They’re happy they’re running.”
Betancourt and his team members also know not all sports programs are able to compete — or even practice. As a result, they are grateful for the opportunity. “They’re happy they are practicing. They are looking forward to competing, definitely,” Betancourt said.
Currently, the Mustang cross country team consists of juniors David Daniels and Robert Cook, who have been running since their freshman year, and fellow junior Blaine Willoughby, a transfer from Torrance. Also joining the team is freshman Dylnn Cagle, who has “great potential,” according to the coach.
Betancourt wishes the team was larger, noting that some parents don’t want their children coming out to practice due to COVID-19. Transportation also is an issue for families.
With that said, Betancourt hoped student athletes from other LVHS sports would join cross country to maintain their fitness and be ready for their primary sports in the spring.
“Parents are working, so they can’t bring their kids to practice and pick them up afterwards. So our team is not as big as it was the last couple of years, but at least we have a team,” he said. “I’m not complaining.”
The first few months of practice, the coach had his runners run long distances slowly. After 15 or 20 minutes of stretching, the team would run the remainder of the 90-minute class time, which is held daily at the high school from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Presently, the runners alternate between distance running and intervals on the track to develop speed.
Following Tuesday’s meet, the Cross Valley League will hold meets on March 9 and March 23. The beginning of the track and field season, which is scheduled for an April start, will overlap with the end of the cross country season.
Follow the Lucerne Valley High School cross country team on Instagram @run_run_run4fun.