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Eddie Duran runs in the parking lot of Taos High School on Monday (Sept. 28). Duran is one of three seniors on this year's cross-country team.

Right now, Taos cross-country should be in the thick of the fall running season. But the pandemic has changed those plans and instead the team is prepping for the season's start.

Instead of beginning in late August, the Tigers begin their season on Oct. 10 when they host a virtual meet, something head coach Bruce Gomez said will be safer – especially during this unusual time.

How does a virtual meet work exactly?

"Let's say I get 10 teams and they all run a designated distance – which will be 5K – at their home and they can run it wherever they wish and they send me the results of the time, and then I score them and mail them their awards," Gomez said in late July.

This year's team is young - sort of like last year - with just three seniors on the team and the rest mostly underclassmen.

The Tigers are without standout runner Alyx Mastor, who placed third in girls Class 4A during the Cross-Country Championships in Río Rancho a season ago.

However, the Tigers are bringing back the likes of Eddie Duran and Duncan Stewart-Jackson, both of whom placed top 50 in the boys race at the Cross-Country Championships last year. And they are also returning senior Kelly Tonrey and Marielle Gomez, a sophomore who last year placed 31st out of more than 100 runners during state.

Tonrey said that it has been odd this season, with the team barely getting workouts underway.

"It's weird because right now we're still getting in shape, where as normally we'd be doing hard workouts and intervals multiple times a week," Tonrey said.

Luckily for Tonrey, the season is less than two weeks away. And on top of that, the Tigers will still have a healthy amount of races that they will compete in.

Taos, after hosting its virtual meet to start the season, will then head to the Santa Fe Invite on Oct. 17 and the Saturday (Oct. 24) after that will head to Las Vegas for the Robertson Invite.

Taos athletic director Mae LaBella said in late July that the goal in scheduling cross-country meets – and any sporting events for that matter – was to keep it as close to home as possible. That's because the New Mexico Activities Association has said that overnight travel isn't permitted, which means traveling farther than a few hours was out of the realm of possibility for the Tigers.

The regular season will finish off at Santa Fe High School on Nov. 7 and after a bit of a break, the Tigers will participate in the district meet at Los Alamos on Nov. 28.

So far, the state championships are slated for early December.

For Tonrey, despite the unusualness of it all, she's just happy to get running.

"This cross-country season is a little bit of my senior year I still get to hold onto even if it's much different," she said. "It's strange but we're making it work. It's just nice to get to see the team again."

Schedule

Saturday (Oct. 10): Taos Virtual Meet

Saturday (Oct. 17): Santa Fe Invite

Saturday (Oct. 24): Robertson Invite

Friday (Oct. 30): Los Alamos Invite

Saturday (Oct. 31): Capital Invite

Saturday (Nov. 7): Santa Fe Invite

Saturday (Nov. 28): District 2-4A Invite

Friday-Saturday (Dec. 4-5): Cross-Country Championships

Roster

Eddie Duran, senior

Duncan Stewart-Jackson, senior

Kelly Tonrey, senior

Marielle Gomez, sophomore

Kai Duchanois, sophomore

Elliot Molz, sophomore

Carlos Rodriguez, freshman

Eduardo Munoz, freshman

Vicente Herrera, freshman

Jade Mares, freshman

Breanna Taylor, freshman

Maddy Elliot-Rowlison, eighth grade

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