Week 4 Highlights: Pearl Cohn, Houston Track Classic

On COVID Protocols

During cross country season, I didn't see as many teams in person as I normally would in year's past. While in previous years I could see 60 teams in a single morning at the Tennessee Classic however in 2020 most meets were limited to eight teams or weren't even held at all. Even though we had a state championship which would normally give us a snapshot of the runners who were going to be players in the distance events in track and field, there are still some surprising names at the top of our leaderboards.

A couple of weeks ago a runner came across my radar from the results of March Madness. Auldyn Plant is a sophomore at Nolensville High School and currently sits 7th overall in the 3200 meter run standings. She is nowhere to be found in the results from the State Cross Country Meet and it wasn't due to injury. She actually ran 5 meets last season except there's a gap in her performances excluding regionals and state. As it turns out, she was contact traced out of competition prior to regionals. She never became sick or tested positive but because of "protocol" her season was essentially over. The same occurred with the 2019 5th place finisher out of Maryville, Andie-Marie Jones, who has yet to debut this outdoor season. She ran all her regular season meets without issue, got contact traced out of regionals, season over.

Auldyn Plant drafting behind Katelyn Vanderkolk in the 3200m run at March Madness.

I'm sure there are many more stories similar to these that aren't as high profile that missed my radar and I'm sure as more schools in metropolitan areas return to class there will be more to come. It's an unfortunate fog that looms over every athlete as they try to balance a normal in person high school experience with athletic endeavors but as much as I hate this policy and hope this is the final season it's implemented, things could be worse. This week a coach in New Hampshire was fired for refusing to implement a mask policy that required all track athletes to wear a mask during competition. Even singles tennis players in New Hampshire are required to as well while hitting a ball back and forth to each other 60 feet apart. So while there may be some hurdles and policies we have to follow to get through this track season at least there aren't complete roadblocks likes these. Now lets get to some highlights.