LONDON — The North Laurel Lady Jaguar Cross Country Team is looking to continue its recent success after turning in a regional runner-up effort last season.
The Lady Jaguars have been practicing since June 29, and have adapted well to the new guidelines that have been put out due to the COVID-19 pandemic with hopes of capturing the program’s first regional title this fall.
“Up to this point the pandemic has not affected our sport,” North Laurel coach Rachel Gaynor said. “We started within a day or two of when we would normally have started practice and with cross country being a low-touch outdoor sport, we were able to practice as normal after June 29. We have, however, still taken precautions and are practicing in two groups instead of one for our numbers in each group to be smaller and so they can practice social distancing a little easier.
“Athletes temperatures are checked when they arrive to practice and healthy at practice questions are asked but then we proceed as normal. We as coaches are having to wear masks but that has not affected our interaction with the runners or our ability to provide instruction.
“A lot of our runners also run track in the spring and so they are ready to be able to compete since they missed out on their track season,” she added. “We are just hopeful that we will be able to have some semblance of a season and be able to participate in the regional meet and then the state meet.”
North Laurel returns a strong nucleus of talent that will allow Gaynor’s squad to make another run at a regional crown.
“After placing runner-up in the girls' region, we feel like we will be very competitive this year throughout the season and at the regional meet with an opportunity to win it,” she said. “Returning on the girls' side, we have seniors Olivia Rudder, Meg Anderson, Daniela Jackson, Kennedy Sizemore, and sophomore Taylor Allen, who were consistently top five runners on the team last year. They have stayed in very good shape over the break and have come into practice with something to prove.
“We have some very good returning middle school runners who will be vying for a spot on the varsity team as well as a few newcomers,” Gaynor added. “We will have very good competition in the region but feel like if we stay healthy and continue to improve each meet, we will definitely have a legitimate shot at the school's first regional girls' title in cross country.”