Fitzpatrick has high hopes for season

Although the coronavirus has put a damper on normal school and athletic activities, Harlan’s cross country coach, Trevor Fitzpatrick, said he has high hopes for the 2020 season.

“From what I’ve seen so far, dealing with COVID-19 is going to be a challenge mentally,” he said. “However, cross country is a sport where during competition the athletes push themselves to their absolute brink for 20-plus consecutive minutes, so a mental challenge is nothing they’re not used to dealing with.”

Fitzpatrick said since sports are the only way students can see each other in a school environment at the moment, coming to practice now is much more than just a workout.

“Luckily for us, cross country is one of the easier sports to meet social distancing guidelines. The athletes maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves, uniforms and schedules will be sprayed with disinfectant before distribution and we are discussing individualized transportation to competitions in order to avoid crowding on a bus,” he said. “Every day when I walk into practice, I feel confident that my athletes are and will continue to be safe.”

Guidelines set in place by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and entities like the CDC are being strictly followed to ensure the season continues until its last meet with safety as a top priority for students and coaches.

Fitzpatrick said even though the guidelines are strict, he understands they are in place to protect each individual’s health and he plans to fully comply with each of them.

“My athletes know that I feel this way, and have so far done a fantastic job maintaining their distance between each other and keeping their spirits high,” he said.

In 2019, Fitzpatrick said he had enough female athletes to form a competitive girls varsity team. This year, however, the team is smaller, leaving plenty of room to focus on individual goals the runners have set for themselves.

“As the season continues to develop, I hope to further refine these goals and end the season with expectations exceeded,” he said.

At the state championship meet in Lexington last year, Harlan’s girls squad, which qualified for a team berth, did not score points in the Class A race with only four runners participating.

They were led by junior Ella Morton, who finished 115th with a time of 23:49.05. Senior Lucy Bryson (25:10.59) was 156th, followed by Mia Pace (168th, 25:44.53) and Emma Owens (214th, 29:48.02).

Led by seniors Tristen Cornette and Ella Morton, the eight-piece team pushes toward new times and a shot at the state championship.

The Harlan Cross Country team will face their first competition for this year’s season at the Lynn Camp Invitational scheduled for Sept. 12.

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