Cross-Country running to kick off in November

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THE 2020 PSS/NMA All-Schools Cross-Country season will be held next month.

"Due to the Covid-19 safety precautions, we have reformatted the season to allow for social distancing," Public School System athletic director Nick Gross said.

The elementary division (K-5, U11) will be allowed one team per school with each team consisting of six students or at least four.  At this level, the teams will be co-ed with a minimum of two girls and two boys and a maximum of three girls and three boys.

On Nov. 7, the middle (6-8, U14) and high school (9-12, U18) divisions will start their season. They will have both female and male teams with the same number of members as the elementary division.

According to Gross, "The current status of PSS' delivery of instruction is a barrier to kids' access to participate, but we were able to get 10 elementary schools, seven middle schools, and four high schools to [join]…. Tinian and Rota plan on attending the championships on Dec. 4-5 (pending travel restrictions)."

Gross added, "Most of the issues pertain to teams being able to get together for training.  Since the vast majority of PSS students are not reporting to their respective campuses at this time, getting teams together for practice sessions is proving to be difficult." 

With social distancing in mind, this year's event will be a lot more different. But with the help of the PSS Athletic Programs, Northern Marianas Athletics and its meet director, Dr. Ron Snyder, are working diligently to mitigate risks associated with the pandemic.

"In years past, part of the wonderment of the All-Schools Cross-Country season was seeing literally hundreds of kids out running for the pure joy of it!” Gross said.



 Student athletes from various schools participated in the 14U division during last year's PSS/NMA All-Schools Cross-Country event. Marianas Variety photo

“We've had to greatly limit the number of participants per school this year to ensure social distancing and the safety of all."

He said they have done this by breaking the events into separate days, and placing the elementary division to compete on Friday afternoons in two separate “cohorts.”

On Saturday mornings, four separate races will be held: high school girls, high school boys, middle school girls and middle school boys.

Each participant from all divisions will be assigned a race number and will be registered to compete in advance.

"This will enable us to run each race without person-to-person contact as we will have officials on-hand to assist with finishing order and electronic timing, which can then be tabulated off-site,"  Gross said.

 This way the athletes will not have to congregate post-race. All participants will be instructed to immediately vacate the finish area, wear their masks, and practice social distancing.

"The pandemic has forced everyone and every event, whether sporting or otherwise, to go back to the drawing board," Gross added.

He said they are currently awaiting the formal acceptance and approval of their plans by the Covid-19 Task Force.

Gross said one of the biggest changes from past events will be the start as each school will now have its own starting "box" where each member of the team will have six inches of space from one another and all other teams. 

Participants will then run 100-200 yards prior to coming together over the remainder of the course.

Over that distance it is anticipated that the athletes will naturally distance themselves along the course.

"Initially, while collaborating with the NMA, Dr. Snyder, and other stakeholders, our thoughts were to scrap this year's events due to the dangers presented by the on-going pandemic,” Gross said. “But after thoughtful review and research of other regions' safety precautions, we were able to identify a format that we are all comfortable with."

Gross added, "Change is never easy, but this pandemic has created opportunities to rethink the way in which we provide these activities for our youth.  So, although the format may be different and the overall number of participants may be much lower than years past, we are confident and excited about this year's All-Schools Cross-Country season!"

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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