John Peckham and his teammates hope to be back to racing once the “fall” season begins February 22. photo by Charlie Kanzig
John Peckham and his teammates hope to be back to racing once the “fall” season begins February 22. photo by Charlie Kanzig
The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out sport seasons for nearly a year now, and along with it many of the goals and dreams of high-school athletes. But some members of the Sisters High School cross-country team have continued to train in hopes of racing in the upcoming weeks during a truncated, six-week season that begins officially February 22.

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), the governing body for Oregon high-school sports and activities, has created a calendar in which the three sports seasons will be condensed down to six or seven weeks apiece, beginning with fall sports. It remains unclear what sports will actually be allowed to fully practice and compete.

Coming off a narrow-runner-up place at the OSAA state championships in November 2019 — just five points behind rival Philomath — the boys cross-country team had high hopes for a rematch in the fall of 2020 as both teams returned the majority of their top runners. But COVID-19 came in March, bringing most high-school sports to a standstill in Oregon.

Seniors John Peckham, Will Thorsett, and Ethan Hosang did not stand still, however. In fact, since November 2019, the trio found a way to establish three of the fastest individual five-kilometer times in school history in non-OSAA sanctioned races.

Peckham is the defending state champion where Thorsett finished a close third.

In addition, sophomore Ella Thorsett, the 2019 state cross-country champion, and other team members, have also continued to train, waiting for the chance to race again.

Plans to continue their running careers in college, as well as the hope of competing this year, motivated the three senior boys to maintain quality training, according to Head Coach Josh Nordell.

Peckham appears to be headed to the University of Idaho and Hosang to Lane Community College, while Thorsett remains undecided while waiting for responses from his applications.

Another senior, Pearl Gregg, dedicated herself to improvement as well and has dropped her five-kilometer best by a full 90 seconds. Around a dozen boys and girls have been dedicated to training throughout the pandemic according to Nordell.

“You’ve got to give these kids credit for running through the summer, then into the fall, and now through the winter, all in hopes of having a cross-country season,” said Nordell.

With the shortened season fast approaching, Nordell and his staff are inviting any and all high-school students to join the team.

“There has never been a better time for kids to get involved in a healthy activity like cross-country,” he said. “We are inviting any and all students to come and join us simply in an effort to provide an opportunity to get moving and be connected safely around other people.”

Interested students can register on the school website using the family ID registration link. All students must have a current sports physical on file in order to begin.

Sisters School District has eliminated all sports “pay-to-play” fees for the school year as an incentive for students to get involved, and also in recognition of the economic hardships many families are facing during the pandemic.