As high school cross country has been given the green light to begin competition in the state, the athletic directors and coaches of the six schools in the Citrus Coast League are busy forming a plan to safely stage meets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re working on it,” said Pat Cooney, the athletic director at league member Carpinteria High. “The CCL is attempting to put together four time trial-type events.”

The proposed format for the competition is to have wave starts, where a single school arrives at the meet venue, warms up, races, cools down and then departs before the next school arrives and goes through the same process.

“Essentially, there would be no interaction between schools at the course,” Cooney said. “The state and CIF guidelines would allow for this, but we are still seeking authorization from our districts, schools and the counties.”

Unlike the Channel League, which has all six of its schools in Santa Barbara County, the six members of the Citrus Coast League are spread over three counties: Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County; Hueneme, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Nordhoff in Ventura County; and Malibu in Los Angeles County.

Under guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, teams located in the same county or bordering counties are allowed to compete in meets, races or similar events. The issue in the CCL is that Carpinteria and Malibu are not in neighboring counties.

“There are still some obstacles, but the cross country coaches and ADs from CCL schools are working hard to get over them,” Cooney said.

Currently, Carpinteria’s student athletes in the CIF’s Season 1 of sports (football, cross country, girls volleyball, and boys and girls water polo) are conditioning in cohorts at this time, Cooney noted.

“They may continue until the last originally scheduled date of competition in the CCL. Carpinteria will begin to phase in Season 2 sports beginning with purple and red tier sports and eventually adding orange and yellow,” he said.

Cooney has been impressed at how the student athletes have handled these uncertain times.

“The students are doing an incredible job. Several continue to excel in the virtual classroom while participating in cohort conditioning. No sugar coating, though. The seniors are hugely disappointed to have lost most, if not all, of their senior season,” Cooney said. “The ‘grind’ has been completely different this year. Coaches have done their best to foster optimism and positive energy even in the face of disappointment after disappointment.”

At neighboring Cate School, Athletic Director Wade Ransom said he doesn’t expect the Rams to run cross country as the students will not return to campus for in-person classes until March 6.

The prestigious boarding school draws students from all over the world.

Cate’s girls cross country team qualified for the CIF State Championships in 2019.

“We do not expect to run cross country this season, just because of the timing with our break and quarantine period when we return,” Ransom said. “We will be ready to go for spring (Season 2) sports in some capacity.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Barry Punzal, Noozhawk Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.