XC and golf have alternative competitions


Nick Gainey

Even though fall sports have been put on hold by COVID-19, not all is lost for some Augustana sports teams. Cross country and women’s golf have made the most of the pandemic by finding alternative forms of competition.
The men’s cross country team recently held a time trial event, submitting their scores to other schools to determine a winner. “This past weekend we did a 3000 meter time trial, and we all kind of decided we’re all going to run it individually at our separate schools,” Jordan Francis, a sophomore on the cross country team, said. “The coaches will send in the times and it’ll be scored and awards will be given out just like in any other meet.”
The time trials have given the team a new sense of purpose during the fall season. “When everything kind of got canceled during the summer, everyone’s motivation got really low,” Francis said. “The coaches, according to Coach [Jake] Shaver, said that they wanted to find a way for us to still be competing and have the competitive aspect of a cross country season without actually having a meet,” Francis said.
The idea of the time trials seems to be resonating well with the members of the team. “When we go out there and we’re running, we’re listening to music on the loudspeakers and we’re all having a good time,” Francis said.
Not everything is perfect however. Since only one school is present, runners seem to be competing against their teammates and friends.
“It can be difficult at times to run when it’s just your team out there…[because] you want to work together to run good times,” Francis said. “It’s kind of hard seeing a guy 10 meters ahead of you and like, “oh, I really want to beat him,’ but it’s a teammate.”
The women’s golf team is taking a similar approach to the fall season.  They didn’t get to play last spring because of the pandemic, but they have stayed positive and continued to work hard, even with the uncertainties of this upcoming season.
 “It was unfortunate that we didn’t get a spring season, but we’re thankful that we at least had the fall season last year,” Brooke Dean, a junior on the women’s golf team, said. “The spring season that we didn’t have gave everyone the opportunity to keep working out at home and building some more strength.” The team held a scrimmage at their home course, Highland Springs Golf Course, on Sept. 13, with the top Viking squad shooting 309 as a team.
“We are competing against other schools, but we have to play our entire round as a team together, ” Flynn Hartigan, sophomore, said. “Then they’ll play their entire round as a team together, so we never actually face each other. At the end of the day we’ll compare scores, but it’s not publicized.”
Dean says conference will no longer be in the fall, but that getting postponed to the spring has actually given them more time to prepare. 
They have spent the fall scrimmaging teams like Carl Sandburg. Dean said that it is hard because they aren’t actually getting to play with them at the same time like they would’ve in the past. “It still gives us a good stance on where we’re at compared to the other schools,” Dean said.
It has been easier to focus on improving during these scrimmages because we can still have that competitive feeling without the pressure of conference,” Dean said. 
The cross country and golf teams have faced a lot of adversity because of COVID-19, but the teams and coaches are trying their best to stay optimistic.