Aquinas High School hosted its first cross country meet since coronavirus pandemic closure of March 2020, with about 20 girls and 30 boys participating in staggered races to limit the number of runners sharing the 3-mile course at a time.

According to Aquinas Cross Country Coach Lorenzo Mota, the three Ambassador League teams organized the event to get a race in with familiar opponents after nearly a year without shared events.

“We’ve done three practice races this year, racing ourselves, and it’s different when you’re racing yourselves. You can only do so much,” Mota said. “It’s great being able to have a gathering of teams here even though it’s a non-league meet. It’s nice to race against people we know and have respect for, them being good teams.”

The first Ambassador League race is scheduled for Feb. 27.

It was the first sporting events in nearly a year for the schools, which are still distance learning.

The teams have been holding social-distanced warm ups and practices in small groups. To participate in the meet, runners were temperature checked and races were broken up in several smaller races with the times all merged at the end of the meet. The starting line was widened so runners could be spread out in a fan formation.

“They’re happy to be back,” Mota said of the students. “A lot of the kids have been doing nothing for the last year. We’re the first team back and its nice to compete since almost a year.”

The schools also fielded smaller-than usual teams as some parents were not comfortable allowing their children to participate.

During the meet, parents, not permitted on the course or student area, watched from behind the parking lot fence.

Aquinas won the girls race with a team time of 114:41 while Ontario Christian won the boys race with a team time of 94:37.

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