Looking back at a superb season, Charlotte’s cross country program took great strides to accomplish the most this year. As global pandemic only allowed the 49ers to race in three total events, they made the best of it.
Charlotte started the season strong with their first meet in Boone, NC. The men's took first place with 18 points, holding all three of the top spots individually. Charlotte's women placed second with 32 points.
In the second meet at the Louisville classic, Charlotte’s men placed second while the women placed sixth.
Knowing they were capable of so much more, the teams put their focus into training for what was next.
Charlotte’s rounded out their season October 31st at the Conference USA championship.
The men’s team chased down the gold, winning the C-USA. The women’s team, not falling too far behind, placed second which was good enough for the sliver medal.
With this great victory in the books, the name of Charlotte cross country was really put out there, leaving the team, the school and coach Joseph Lynn very proud.
“What an honor it has been to work with this team," said Lynn. "I have a great support system that allows me to operate at the highest level. I know we will continue to grow our success greatly.”
Although enduring some harsh setbacks along the way due to COVID-19, the men still found a way to push past those grueling boundaries, coming out on top victorious.
Giving it everything they had throughout the entirety of the season, senior Paul Arredondo and sophomore Nick Scudder helped lead the team, driving them to never quit.
For the opening meet in Boone, Arredondo took the first place win with a new PR time of 20:06:58 in the 6.4k race.
At the C-USA championship, Scudder held the lead, winning the individual conference title. With a time of 23:36:28 in the 8k, Scudder ranked third in school history, and seventh in C-USA history.
The men had a phenomenal season landing with seven all conference runners: Nick Scudder, Paul Arredondo, Brian Picone, Michael Durkin, Avery Cannon, Jacob Gallant, and Finnegan McBride.
“This team has been in the making for years. I knew this was coming and what a fantastic breakthrough it was,” said Lynn.
Not getting to run in a typical cross country season may have shook things up, but the team adapted pretty well, still excelling on the course to the best of their ability.
“Running together was definitely what kept me sane through it all,” said Junior Chandler Horton.
Wanting to inspire the other women, Horton and freshman Louise Lounes provided great leadership for the team. They really sent the standard by never giving up and showing what real dedication this sport takes.
At the Louisville classic Lounes placed first for the team, and gained a new PR of 17:35 for the 5k.
At the conference meet, Horton was Charlotte's top placer, finishing with a time of 21:38:52 in the 6k race.
Although a short season, these women landed with four all conference runners: Chandler Horton, Louise Lounes, Alina Rovnak, and Jade Martin.
The women all agree that this team has really shaped their experience here at Charlotte and they are each so thankful for the opportunity to run and be a part of this team.
Adapting to a new environment
Although in the midst of an incredible season, Charlotte’s cross country team did have to endure new challenges due to COVID-19, including getting tested three times a week.
“We stay safe at practice by social distancing and wearing masks while running," said Scudder. "We have been doing workouts in smaller groups as well to limit exposure.”
Coach Lynn fought hard for the team in the conference meetings over the summer. He made it possible for a safe cross country season to continue, as opposed to getting it cancelled like other schools.
Unfortunately, eight of the men on the team do live together, so COVID-19 did pose a threat to their season when one of the runners tested positive. This left them on all lockdown according to Sucdder and coach Lynn. Then they had to miss the Louisville classic as a consequence.
Although, that didn’t stop any of them from pushing that much harder at their next available meet. They took what was given to them and turned it into a higher level of motivation.
“I think that with this pandemic, everyone went into this season with a little bit of uncertainty,” said Lounes. "We all still went into the season motivated, never missing a beat whether in workouts or in meets."
Lounes noted that even with COVID-19 restrictions, the team remained united more than ever, wanting to come together in proving they can overcome a lot and making them a "force to be reckoned with," said Lounes.
Charlotte still has a chance to shine once more.
This year's NCAA Cross Country Championships won't be held until Mar. 15 after the NCAA decided to move the championships to the spring back in August. Schools will have until Mar. 5 to declare that they want to take part in the championships. Teams will be evaluated on their conference season success.