Cross-country finds a new alternative way to compete


Amid the postponement of fall sports, Diamond Bar High School’s cross country team is keeping up with the competition while still taking necessary precautions.

Runners are trying an unconventional approach to the track this season, though: they’re registering for virtual races. Head coach Malinalli Cooke proposed the idea to students after the team was invited to Woodbridge High School’s virtual invitational.

“I thought it was a great idea because it would give the athletes a sense of purpose in this extended preseason,” Cooke said via email. “Also, since we can’t meet in person right now, holding virtual tryouts seemed the way to go.”

The Brahmas will be placed into a heat based on school size and division. Once they have registered, Cooke will create a three-mile course and time the athletes in small groups. Their times will then be uploaded to the host school’s website and, just like an in-person competition, the winners will receive medals.

Cooke has been putting the extended preseason to use by training athletes to avoid injuries and foster better performance for the upcoming season. The team is currently preparing for their first virtual race, the Woodbridge Invitational, which will be held Sept. 11-17.

For those who did not train over the summer we are building our base,” Cooke said. “For those who did train over the summer we are maintaining higher distances and pace and we are incorporating speed work.”

According to Cooke, the returning athletes improved without much training. As for the newcomers, she says that some of the freshmen have been impressive. Notable runners include junior Andrew Kim and freshman L’Mio Edwards, who are the fastest boy and girl on the team, respectively. 

It has yet to be determined by the state and the district when the Brahmas will be able to practice together as a team given current restrictions on group gatherings. In lieu of meetings,  information about training, tryouts and virtual races is shared during class via Google Meets.

“[Class] is the time for them to ask me clarifying questions, let me know how they are feeling, and just get ‘together’ and stay connected,” Cooke said.

With the opportunity of having an extra semester to train, Cooke has high hopes for the team’s performance. This season, the Brahmas are a part of the Hacienda League, where they’ll compete with students from Rowland, Wilson, South Hills, Los Altos and Walnut High School.

“I’m hoping for a healthier team and a bunch of personal records,” Cooke said.