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Sandy Journal

Jordan cross country team sends 10 athletes to state meet

Oct 28, 2020 03:55PM ● By Tavia Dutson

By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]

As Jordan High School head coach Greg Shaw entered the 2020 cross country season, he was happy to see one of the biggest rosters in years. After seasons of not having a scoring girls team, the Beetdiggers now had enough athletes on both sides to have competitive teams.

“We’re trying to get numbers out, I’d love to have a team of 60 kids,” Shaw said.

Since 2019, the Beetdiggers have competed in the UHSAA 6A classification against teams two to three times their size. In Shaw’s early years at Jordan, he has been cultivating a culture that allows for many athletes to come out and compete. The high turnout this year has proved a turning point for Jordan’s cross country team.

Senior Lucy Lovell has earned the role of team captain of the girls team in her fourth year on the team. As this is the first group to be able to score as a team, she’s been able to break new ground.

“It’s been fun to help the team see that this is it. We realize this can be taken away from us at any time like track was last year,” Lovell said. “Just give it everything you’ve got.”

New to cross country this year is a divisional race to determine which athletes will compete at Soldier Hollow on Oct. 22 for both the individual and team state titles. In the past, the results of region races were the final word on state qualifiers.

“It’s an attempt to make sure all the best teams get there because some regions are better than others,” said assistant coach Andrew Yawn.

As the Beetdiggers compete in one of these tougher regions, they are grateful for the addition of a divisional race. The boys were able to qualify as a team after securing an eighth-place finish at the divisional race at Lakeside Park in Orem. The girls were able to qualify three individuals: Sarah Seamons, Nicole Schreiber and Lucy Lovell. They took up three of the six qualifier spots that are allotted to individuals not on a qualifying team.

This is the most successful team Jordan has sent in the past five years and it came with hard work. As Jordan High School reopened for the school year, they put new health codes in place to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes a mandatory two-week quarantine to anyone sitting adjacent to a student in their class who tests positive for COVID. Shaw found himself having to coach some of his athletes remotely due to this new mandate.

“We’ve been really lucky to have no calls over the weekend,” said Shaw at Monday practice. “We survived the weekend, there was a positive test on Friday here at the school.”

In the team’s peak training week, three members of the girls’ varsity team had to quarantine. The girls were expected to complete some of the most difficult workouts of the season without their teammates at their sides.

“It makes a difference to have all the girls together. They did workouts on their own, but it’s just not the same,” Shaw said.

Despite setbacks, the Beetdiggers are prevailing. Mental practice, a technique introduced by Shaw, has no doubt helped the team be resilient to these unique challenges. One of the reasons for Shaw’s emphasis on mental toughness has been the lack of racing opportunities earlier this year. After the UHSAA canceled spring sports, cross country athletes were not able to compete in spring track.

“I don’t think they would be having as many problems if they ran track. In track you race so much, so you can get in that competitive mode. You have up to four races in a day, you’re going to learn a lot faster,” Shaw said.

As the Beetdiggers take on state, Lovell will be racing in her last high school cross country meet. She will leave behind a legacy as she leads two of her teammates to the starting line. She has been grateful for the ability to help guide the girls team through the ups and downs of this season.

“It’s been fun to be able to share my experiences. Seeing how much it really can mean to you if you put in the work,” Lovell said. “Being able to watch them work hard and have it pay off is great.”