May 20, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

After stay at home order lifted, Crean Lutheran and Mater Dei cross country teams ready to run

High school cross country season has been given the go-ahead to start up in the state following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Monday that the state’s stay at home order has been lifted.

Newsom made the announcement during a televised news conference but said the state will still use a tiered system to monitor the coronavirus pandemic.

Orange County and all of Southern California remains in the most restrictive purple tier, but California Department of Public Health officials have said that cross country meets can be held in that tier, pending approval from local authorities.

When it returns, cross country will be the first high school sport to have competition since last March when high school sports were shut down due to the pandemic. The other sports return will be determined by whether counties are in specific tiers.

Asked whether cross country meets can begin, Thom Simmons, assistant CIF Southern Section commissioner, said in an Email:

“Yes, under California as well as individual county and local health department guidelines.”

Simmons added that the matter is also “up to each individual school district, public and private school.”

Crean Lutheran High School Athletic Director Eric Olson indicated excitement about the announcement.

“Yes, we have been planning and we are ready! The only challenge we have faced was securing venues,” Olson said. “Many of our courses and parks are closed. Our head cross country coach (Robby Cherry) has been a trailblazer, working with coaches to be ready to run when the stay at home order is lifted.

“Coach Cherry even mapped out a full cross country course here on campus so we could host a meet. Our first cross country meet is scheduled for Saturday, Feb 6.”

Mater Dei’s girls and boys cross country teams will start practice on Tuesday, according to Amanda Waters, athletic director at Mater Dei.

“We will start our official practices tomorrow (Tuesday) and first competition will be Feb. 6 (vs. Servite/Rosary at Santa Margarita),” Waters said in an Email. “So excited! I cannot wait to finally see kids compete!”

Irvine Unified School District athletic director Mark Cunningham said that district officials will discuss Monday night when cross country can start up among the high schools in the district.

Newsom’s announcement comes about a week after CIF officials announced post-season competition was being cancelled for cross country and other sports. But officials said they were still hoping that regular season competition could be held.

CIF Commissioner Rob Wigod, in an interview Friday with OC Sports Zone, also talked about the possible benefits of cross country returning:

“We certainly hope so and obviously it’s been extremely difficult for everyone trying to resume high school athletic competition and the first step to get at least one sport going and see progress made that potentially some of our other fall sports would have a chance before their seasons completed and then looking at our spring sports to see how those could play out when they begin and get more and more student athletes back to what they love to do and what we love to watch them do,” he said.

In order for other sports to return, counties will have to be in specific tiers.

State officials are expected to provide their weekly update on the tiers Tuesday. Wigod and other officials have asked for an adjustment of the tiers allowing more sports to play.

“I would not want to speculate on what this means for future of other sports at this time,” Simmons said when asked what Monday’s announcement meant for the future of other sports.

Case numbers in Orange County have been declining for the most part in the past five days. According to Monday’s figures release by the Orange County Health Care Agency, there were 1,330 positive cases and 66 deaths.

This is breaking news and will be updated as needed.

–Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com