Men, women’s cross country season begins

The new 2020 season is officially under way for the JJC cross country team. The decision was heavily considered, with multiple discussions and assurance that being able to play was the safest thing.

It is the new norm for everyone, since the COVID-19 pandemic surged and put the world on pause. Sports everywhere had to wait, but with protocols and guidelines set, the wait is over.

Head Cross Country Coach Jeffery DeGraw, who leads both the men and women’s teams, has worked with his staff to make sure the teams were prepared for the potential of the upcoming season.

“[The] team did a very good job of progressing over the summer and it has shown for all them,” DeGraw said. “As we are much further ahead of where we were last year at this time.”

After discussions with Athletic Director Gregory Braun, and the help of the National Junior College Athletic Association on July 13, it was announced that cross country competitions for both men and women were allowed to proceed.

Changes to the 2020 season and competition rules have been made in reaction to the pandemic. The schedule has been reduced, and the number of runners per race has been adjusted. It is part of the social distancing practice that has been applied everywhere.

“Myself, my assistant, and our cross country team are grateful for all that was done so that we could move forward with our season,” DeGraw said. “We are sort of the model for what we all need to do, and want to do it correctly.”

The men’s Wolves team hopes to translate a well-capped-off season in 2019 and pick up where they left off in 2020. The men finished in seventh place in the Division III National Championship in November, and DeGraw said. “We are sort of the model for what we all need to do, and want to do it correctly.”

The men’s Wolves team hopes to translate a well-capped-off season in 2019 and pick up where they left off in 2020. The men finished in seventh place in the Division III National Championship in November, and with returning sophomores Luke Talbot and Noah Blakely, another appearance is in the sights of the Wolves.

The Lady Wolves are trying to replace Ana Pineda, and that won’t be easy. She led the Wolves Lady Wolves last season, finishing seventh at the Division III National Championship and earning All-American honors. Her success is motivation for the incoming group of freshman runners.

“All of the student athletes are working extremely hard and want to be successful, and [they] get along very well,” DeGraw said.