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Winnebago cross country runners overcome quarantine

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 10:35 PM CST
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WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - After taking away their shot at a second straight state championship, COVID-19 nearly ended the season prematurely for some Winnebago cross country runners.

But just like every other obstacle thrown in front of them, the Indians overcame unfortunate circumstances.

“At first, I started to freak out,” said Bago sophomore Kaylee Woolery.

Freaking out is an acceptable reaction after learning you have to quarantine, But how Woolery followed that up just shows her determination as a state champion runner.

“I was very upset because I wasn’t going to be able to run at regionals, but then I realized I could have two weeks of training and getting better," Woolery said. "I just decided I would look at it in a positive way instead of focusing on the things that I wasn’t going to have.I was focusing on what I would get out of this.”

Woolery and teammates Katie and Grace Erb and head coaches Joe and Janet Erb were forced to sit out regionals after a classmate tested positive for COVID-19. For the Erb family, this sport means everything so it was difficult to miss out.

“Cross country has definitely been a big part of my family so for us to sit out and miss it and the girls miss racing and Janet and I miss coaching, it’s tough," said Erb. "But I was really proud of the kids and the way they competed and the coaches stepping up and taking care of everything last week.”

Even without three runners, the Indians were still victorious at regionals and on their first day out of quarantine, the girls propelled Bago to another sectional title.

“I know I only missed one meet, but it did feel like a lot since I couldn’t be there to cheer because I really love that part, but it’s really great to come back for one last one,” said Grace Erb.

While that race was their last of the season since there is no state, the hall-of-fame head coach says it means a lot just to be together again.

“Just to be together and celebrate running and celebrate the work they put in, it’s just so special and so exciting,” said Erb.

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