The reaction to the Big Ten's decision last week to postpone fall sports to a possible spring season has focused mostly on football.
But where does that leave cross country?
For Iowa senior runner Jeff Roberts, the Big Ten decision, as well as the NCAA's decision to cancel all fall championships, led to plenty of doubt.
“My guess is they would probably just cancel cross country overall and then continue with the winter and spring seasons for track,” said Roberts. “In spring track, there are the long distance events where you still get your distance runners being able to race.”
Moving cross country to the spring isn’t as easy on paper as the other sports. In fact, it might not be possible in the first place.
As Roberts pointed out, Iowa’s cross country runners also make up its long-distance squad in track and field. Iowa's cross country and track and field teams competing in different meets in the same week doesn’t make sense.
But the decision stings nevertheless.
“We’re all pretty bummed,” Roberts said.
In turn, the senior is taking a fifth year, allowing him to continue his cross country career for an additional season, since he likely won’t get the chance in the spring.
It isn’t necessarily the end of the world for Roberts, as the Big Ten’s announcement helped to solidify the decision to take another season of eligibility — something he was mulling prior to last week.
“I was 60-40, 60 being stay for a fifth year to be able to carry out my academic choices I had available,” he said. “I picked up another major to fill up the hours and be able to get another degree.”
Roberts originally intended to major solely in marketing with a minor in psychology, but the uncertainty surrounding his cross-country season provided him the chance to add an economics major to his degree.
“With everything going on around and everything fluctuating in the markets, I thought choosing economics would be an awesome choice to choose in these times,” he said.
But where does the uncertainty leave the rest of the Hawkeye cross-country team?
Iowa only has two seniors on its roster — Roberts and Noah Healy. Out of the 12 runners on the team, seven are incoming freshmen this year.
Those newcomers probably won’t get the chance to compete in their first cross country races this school year.
The only thing they and the rest of the team can do, according to Roberts, is stay focused.
“On our agenda, nothing really changes,” he said. “We’re all still motivated to keep training and we’ll be ready for the next opportunity that is presented.”
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