Tim Reetz’s cellphone was blowing up Sunday.
After Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster sent a campus-wide email of expanded COVID-19 protocols that day, including a step back from varsity athletics, the CMU cross-country team was expecting the worst.
“It was pretty rough hearing that. I was kind of devastated,” senior Linsday Parsons said. “I worked so hard for this, the whole team worked their butts off this whole season. I was upset. I don’t have words for it.”
“This” is the D2 XC National Invitational, a replacement of sorts for the NCAA Division II national championships that were canceled because of the pandemic. Lubbock Christian is hosting the invitational this morning, and the CMU men’s team, plus two runners on the women’s team, qualified through their place at the RMAC Championships.
Their question was, did the university’s call to temporarily halt athletics mean they wouldn’t be competing?
“A lot of text messaging going on this weekend,” said Reetz, the Mavs’ cross country coach. “Have you heard anything yet? No, don’t think we will until probably Tuesday, contact tracing is doing their job. We just keep working out same as we have been.”
Well, sort of.
The halt meant no team practices, so the runners were on their own to train. They got the OK — pending passing their weekly COVID-19 tests — earlier this week to make the trip. Athletes are tested 72 hours before competition and must receive a negative result to participate.
The majority of the field will be from the South Central and Central regions, with 13 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams entered as of early this week, along with 30 individual qualifiers.
Parsons and freshman Kira MacGill qualified as individuals. With the extra year of eligibility to athletes granted because of the shortened season, MacGill could end up being a two-time RMAC freshman of the year in cross country.
“A little RMAC lore in the making,” Reetz said, laughing.
The men’s race is 10 kilometers, up from the usual 8K, with the women running a 6K. The longer distance suits Mark Testa, who prefers longer distances. He, Tony Torres and Jerod Kuhn have paced the Mavericks all season.
“Maybe more excitement,” he said. “Out of our top three guys I lean most toward distance events. … Maybe a feeling of greater responsibility. In that last 2K I’m going to have to go out and lead a little bit more than I usually do.”
The nature of the sport has helped this week, when they couldn’t train as a team.
“They are used to our routine and are used to what we do, so it’s very easy to tell them you’re going to have to do this on your own now, it’s something we’ve prepped for,” Reetz said.
“They’ve been on their own running, or with their roommates to get a workout in and text me their times. This week has been different than any other week leading up to a big meet than I’ve ever had.”
Freshman Tristan Kelly won the 76-kilogram weight class in the Junior World Team Trials in Omaha, winning all three of her matches 10-0. Kelly defeated the top-ranked high school wrestler in the nation, and in the finals defeated Yelena Makoyed of North Central College (Illinois), ranked No. 1 in the NCAA at 170 pounds.
Marissa Gallegos, No. 3 in the preseason rankings at 123 pounds, finished fourth at 53 kg, losing to Alleida Martinez in the third-place match after defeating her in the quarterfinals.
Caylee Collins was fifth at 72 kg and Anja Tschohl, ranked No. 7 at 116, was sixth at 50 kg.
Nanen Aguilar, wrestling at 55 kg, Jamae Barnes (57 kg) and Madaline Frick (65 kg) each placed eighth.
The Junior World Team Trials was the first competition of the season for the Mavericks, who will compete today in the U23 National Team Trials.
In the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll released earlier this week, CMU is No. 7 in the team rankings.
Jennesis Martinez is No. 3 at 101 pounds, Dalia Garibay is No. 2 at 136 and Kaylee Lacy is No. 7 at 143.