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C.O. cross-country HS athletes must wear masks, among other changes

(Update: adding video, comments from coach, runner, OSAA official)

Summit head coach cautiously optimistic about upcoming season

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- It's going to be an unprecedented experience, during a time when that's become the norm. Cross-country is already one of the most enduring high school sports -- and now, the athletes will be expected to wear masks while competing during the upcoming season.

"This is definitely going to be one like no other,” said Summit High School Head Cross-Country Coach Kari Strang, saying words we've heard all too often.

It’s language that used to sound so extreme, but has now become normal.

"I think anyone that has been around in the past 11 months, we know that things can change really quickly,” Strang told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday.

Strang has experienced that first-hand.

She was hired as the head coach early last year. Two weeks later, the pandemic hit, putting her first season on hold.

Cross-country has the green light now, but there was still major concern surrounding a rule that limited meets to just two schools.

However, Gov. Kate Brown eased up on that restriction last week.

"By allowing us the opportunity to have a little more competition, it's a closer semblance of what a normal cross country season is like,” Strang said.

Now, gathering size is determined by the county's risk level. Extreme Risk counties, like Crook and Jefferson, are capped at 50, High Risk counties, like Deschutes, are limited to 75 people, while Moderate Risk counties can have up to 150, and Low Risk counties are allowed a maximum of 300 people.

Brad Garrett, assistant executive director of the Oregon Scholastic Activities Association, who oversees cross-country, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday, "The governor has given us a pathway. Now it's up to us to make sure we're following the guidelines – I mean OSAA-member schools, administrators, coaches, parents -- it's up to us now to make sure we can stay on the track."

"It's not time to relax," Garrett said. "It's time to get more diligent -- now."

Still, there's one rule in particular Garrett wishes was removed altogether – that cross-country athletes must wear masks during competition, no matter the county’s risk level. That means in between the whistles, not just on the sidelines.

In addition to the runners, Garrett confirmed that football and soccer players will have to wear masks on the field of play as well.

“As we move forward, what we’re really hoping for is some possible revision to the face mask requirement while they are competing,” Garrett said. “That would be huge, for a number of our sports.”

Maggie Williams, a junior cross-country runner at Summit, said the team been training with masks since June, while admitting it was a challenge at first.

"Sometimes it just feels like you can't take a whole breath, where you're not getting a ton of oxygen,” she said.

Williams added, “After a couple months of having to wear it, we’ve gotten used to it. It’s not too bad. I'm totally willing to do that to be able to compete with the team and to be able to run with them."

Strang, Garrett and Williams said they understand the current guidelines do not allow for a dream situation, but they all agree this is a positive step in the right direction.

Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Sports / Top Stories
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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.



  1. Gov. Brown needs to show the science on this. She won’t because there is none. Will she ever release us from this perpetual “state of emergency” which gives her power to commit vile acts against the people. The peoples willingness to tolerate her criminal behavior is waning.

    1. Oh Gawd (gaslight), what “vile acts” has she done to you? Maybe her “vile acts” allowed Oregon to be one of the lowest COVID impacted states per capita in the country? The vile acts are being committed by the people stirring things up with people like you (OAN, Newsmax, Fox News, Lars, etc.) to the point of being confused to not know the difference between short term individual sacrifice and what you think is “vile” and an affront to your “freedom”. The rest of us are really itching for a break from the whining from folks like you. Give us a break and abide by our right to have “freedom from” your stupidity and actions.

      1. “She”, Commie Kate is making cross country runners, run with a mask on outside. Think about that for one tiny second. Go buy more tv’s in Costco with thousands of other covid spreaders.

  2. There is no sCiEnCe behind any of this and yet the insanity continues. I see people driving in their cars ALONE with masks on! The stupidity of people who believe everything they are told. Most likely they get their news from CNN also.

  3. This is total BS why the hell are the colleges and pros slobbering all over without masks. It is time for people running these programs to get some balls and tell that dumb Kate back off and get real.

        1. Maybe not pass out but go try it and see how far you make it. You can’t get full breaths and you’re still inhaling CO2 which isn’t healthy at all. Those masks come off the second these kids lose line of sight, guaranteed. This is truly an asinine rule.

    1. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a huge “ask” to you but it’s not an ask; it’s a completely ridiculous demand by Brown, and the stupidity of this on top of the rest of the ignorance that she has implemented, is huge…It has essentially destroyed a state, and turned it’s citizens into puppets in less than a years, and there is no end in sight.

  4. This is absolutely insane. Where have all the rational people gone? Protip: they’re not hiding in the government, academia, or a newsroom. Filled with delusional activists, all of them.

    1. Big difference when you have bad allergies and when your communist governor says everyone must wear a mask regardless. Welcome to the new leftists America. I hope you enjoy what you have created.

      1. fanbeav…all ruled by fear, eh? Using the terms communist and leftist don’t mean a thing if what you are afraid of is all manufactured. And I haven’t “created” anything, but you sure have created your own reality. Exactly what has been taken away from you during this pandemic? That’s what I thought. Nothing. Run along to your next make believe fear.

      1. Those aren’t “cut outs”. Why would he wear it with holes that big to stop pollen? Have you seen pollen that big? You really are willing to create your own reality to fit your stupidity, aren’t you, covid-21! Go whine about something real.

  5. This is insane. As a licensed healthcare provider of over 40 years, COVID is not outside on the cross country running course. Who in the hell ever came up with this decision? Kate Brown is destroying Oregon. I am shocked she has not been removed from office. For you folks that wear your mask in your car by yourself, while you are out walking or riding your bike, you are living in an unrealistic world of fear.

    1. She has already destroyed Oregon… I’m not shocked that she hasn’t been removed from office because the same idiots that wear masks while they are driving in their car alone, are the same idiots that voted her into office in the first place.

      1. The state is “destroyed”? Really? Yes, many are struggling and hurting, but overstating gets us nowhere. It’s as bad an extreme as saying “everything’s fine.”
        EVERY state is struggling with similar issues.

  6. Covidiots at their finest. There is no way to justify this or other covididiocy measures. The old ones instead of staying home, selfishly deprive the future generation from their education, activities and mental/physical health.
    And now drug use and suicides skyrocket in the generation our economy and future relies on while the selfish, non-productive elderly stroll around playing golf and demand everybody else to stay home. How despicable!

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