By Ray Hamill — With the H-DNL hoping to finalize schedules in the coming weeks, cross country looks likely to be the first local prep sport to return in December.
It’s also probably one of the easiest of the sports to host under restricted COVID-19 conditions.
“As far as challenges (putting on the races), for us I don’t think there’s going to be any big challenges,” said Eureka head coach Matt Messner, whose boys team is the defending H-DNL champions. “I don’t think it would take much.”
With runners spread out throughout the course, cross country is a sport that naturally features social distancing, and about the only real concern would be at the starting line, where traditionally all the runners line up in a tight group.
Messner believes a little adjustment would take care of that, with each school lining up its runners in a single file separate from the other teams, with each school’s top runners lining up at the front of the line.
“After the start they get farther and farther apart,” he added. “I’m kind of anticipating it will be fairly normal for our kids.”
The league has yet to finalize schedules and must get the go-ahead from state and local health officials before any competition can begin.
But cross country is tentatively set to start in mid-December, with the likelihood of four league meets and a league championship.
Weather could play a factor in what will be a December/January season instead of the usual fall campaign, but the Eureka coach believes it won’t be too much of a problem.
Messner and the Loggers will host the league championships this year, and the coach says he is hoping to hold them at the Eureka Municipal Golf Course, weather permitting.
“If not, we’ll be at the Arcata Marsh,” he said. “It holds up well.”