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Indians have “no expectations” for season without chance to repeat

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:50 PM CDT
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WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything for high school athletes and for Winnebago girls cross country, it has even taken away the opportunity at back-to-back state championships.

But the Indians are not allowing for that to keep them down.

“One meet doesn’t make or break your season,” said head coach Joe Erb. “It never does.”

After bringing home the 2019 1A state title, the Winnebago girls runners could not help but think about returning to Peoria in 2020.

The IHSA may have canceled state tourneys for the fall, but Renee Rittmeyer and the Indians are looking on the bright side.

“It’s kind of disappointing, but we’re all glad that we get a race and we get to still have our fall sport,” said Rittmeyer.

“I’m so thankful that we even have a season because all of the other sports are not able to or they’re pushed back,” said sophomore Kaylee Woolery.

Sophomore Grace Erb says they just have to focus on getting better day by day.

“I would say there’s no expectations right now,” said Erb. “It’s just races, trying your best and trying to improve from this point on.”

Improving may be a little more difficult than usual with the new safety guidelines.

Events are limited to 50 people and with fewer runners on the course, Joe Erb says that means slower times.

“That really hinders races,” said Erb. “The more people that are around, the easier it is to race fast. If you get separated from a group, it makes it much more difficult for you.”

“We have a lot less competition and a lot less people to run with so times may be slower because we don’t have as much competition,” said junior Sophia Martino.

Bago might not have as much competition, but there is plenty up and down its own roster.

No matter who is leading the way, the Indians will have each others’ backs.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but it is what it is,” said senior Natalia Martino. “At least we know we’re all going through this. It’s not just me going through it. Everybody else is going through it and it makes it a lot better.”

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.

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