LHS cross country runners race to 2021

Paige Bajsarowicz, Staff Writer

Painful. Exhausting. Never-ending. Each of these words can be used to describe 2020 so far. Yet, many agree that these words can also describe another thing: cross-country running. 

It’s safe to say that 2020 has changed many things, including the Liberty High School cross country season. Normally held during the fall, the cross-country season has been postponed at least until March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, many Liberty cross-country athletes have taken advantage of the delayed season and discovered new ways to train. “This fall season has provided a great opportunity for me to prepare for the upcoming cross-country season,” junior cross-country athlete Blake Bauge said.

To stay in shape, as many as five athletes from the LHS cross-country team have joined a running club called Speed Unlimited, in their newfound free time. The Speed Unlimited fall season starts at the beginning of September and ends mid-December, concluding with a final race at the National Championship.

This year Speed Unlimited will not be able to compete in as many local races as usual, but they have planned for optional upcoming meets in Arizona and Yakima. Athletes’ times from these meets will be official, which means they can be seen by college recruiters.

Regarding the training athletes receive at Speed Unlimited, the workouts are created specifically for the runners. In addition, the location changes often, which allows athletes to practice running over different terrains.

“Because we practice only three times a week, our workouts focus on quality work. On off days, runners are expected to do two easy runs and one long run individually,” Speed Unlimited head cross country coach Lyudmila Vasilyeva said. Vasilyeva later explained that quality work focuses around 3 to 4-mile tempo runs, 800 to 1600 meter intervals, or 200 to 400-meter repeats. 

“I believe the workouts are effective,” Bauge said. “They are structured for athletes to achieve significant improvement by the end of the season.” 

Overall, athletes are pleased with the opportunities Speed Unlimited is offering this fall.

“Our coach, Lyuda, is a wonderful instructor, and I’ve improved my form since coming here,” junior cross-country athlete, Anna Grabowski, said. “I love the people, and it’s nice to have workouts again.” 

Still, while the athletes enjoy running with the new team, many would prefer to compete in the LHS cross country season. 

“Speed Unlimited is great, and it’s great training, but it is not the same as our Liberty team,” Grabowski says.

But who knows? Perhaps cases of Covid-19 will drop and the LHS cross country team will begin training this winter. It wouldn’t be the first-time a miracle has happened.

Blake Bauge (11) and Anna Grabowski (11) pose for a picture after a 2019 LHS cross country meet.