The Shorewood Girl's team lines up at the start of their 3200m time trial.
Things looked to be falling into place for the Shorewood girls cross country team. With several varsity runners returning and a summer of training behind them, the defending Division 2 state champs could be in for a good year.
But, with a fall season still up in the air for many teams in the state, the opportunity to put that potential into action looked slimmer and slimmer. Still, the team looks to return to competition with cautious optimism.
"Everyone's healthy at the moment and it's exciting, but you're always apprehensive about what's coming the next day," said new coach Geoff Gundlach, who jumped over to the girls' team after serving as the boys' assistant coach for three years. "You can't get too far ahead of yourself."
Notably, the team returns two top runners, Bella Lozier and Annika Elliott, who finished fourth and thirteenth and the 2019 state meet, respectively. Both had strong pre-season 3200m time trial performances, with Lozier finishing in 11:25 and Elliott coming in shortly behind her at 11:36. Lozier, also a soccer athlete, logged her first year of year-round running.
"It's a gifted group, a very hard working group, but we have to do things the right way and be as diligent as we had been in the past to stay at that high level," Gundlach said. "Cultivating the process of everyone getting better within their own right and embracing that day to day is what you have to go back to."
While acknowledging that the season is one they'd have to take in stride, the coach also emphasized the importance of getting a competition date on the calendar.
Shorewood's Woodland Conference moved its championship meet to the weekend of October 10th - a week earlier than its normal date. The goal, then, is to work back to the start of the season.
"I think it's good we addressed that right away, that we have kind of a culminating event. That's kind of why you compete, is to have that goal at the end of the season to be able to get to."
Regardless of what that competition might look like, the team still looks ahead.
"You try to focus on the fact that we still have an opportunity, which we're grateful for."