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MFHS distance runners keeping pace despite COVID-19

Marble Falls High School runner Bailey Goggans

Marble Falls High School runner Bailey Goggans won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes 53.63 seconds at the Austin Vandegrift Viper Distance Festival on March 7. Goggans and her teammates are keeping up with training despite the UIL halting meets. Photo by Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Even though they can’t participate in organized practices, Marble Falls High School distance runners are steaming head.

The University Interscholastic League, the governing body of extracurricular activities for public schools, halted all activities in mid-March because of the COVID-19 outbreak. State officials hope to resume activities in early May.

If there had not been a stoppage in play, the District 17-5A track-and-field meet would have occurred April 1-2.

Still, Marble Falls runners aren’t taking an extended break.

Coach Chris Schrader has given workouts to athletes, who are marking off distances at their homes or on their streets. Some have gone to the Mustang Ridge subdivision, located off RR 1431 west, and run the trail there that leads to the entrance of the high school at Mustang Drive. The workouts include running up hills, a specific number of distances done within a certain amount of time, and repetitions.

“Your training is on your own,” Schrader has written to the athletes.

Senior Bryer Atkinson, who will run at Tarleton State University next year, has specific distances marked and is expected to meet a certain time standard. Atkinson set a new personal best in the 1,600 meters at the Austin Vandegrift Viper Distance Festival on March 7, finishing in 4 minutes 26.53 seconds.

Junior Bailey Goggans, the two-time defending Class 5A state champion in the 800 meters, continues to train for a three-peat in the event. She tops the list of fastest 800-meter times in the state this season at 2:07. She has added the 1,600 meters to her list of races, competing only once in that race, at the Viper Distance Festival, where she clocked 4:53 and came in first.

“It’s starting to grow on me,” Goggans said of the 1,600. “I haven’t done it a whole bunch. 

She said Schrader has texted workouts to her that she has been doing on her home course, either on her own or with a workout partner.

She was named an All-American by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, which owns and operates the New Balance Indoors National Meet in New York City. Goggans was slated to attend the March 13-15 meet, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Since the school year began, Goggans’ goal was to qualify and compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials this year. With Olympic officials postponing the Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021, U.S. Track and Field, the national governing body of the sport, also postponed the trials.

“It’s a whole calendar year to build my training, to get strong,” she said. “That’s definitely a positive during this tough time.”

Schrader said the challenge for Goggans is to train hard enough to stay sharp but not overdo it, which could lead to fatigue.

“The big thing for Bailey is staying focused,” Schrader said. “You get something dealt to you, you have to fight against it. You still have to do course work and eat properly.”

The junior’s attitude remains the same as she envisions adding to her impressive trophy case. While she has won the 800-meter state championship twice, she won the 400-meter state title last year after finishing third in 2018.

“I’m still going to train and be ready for if the opportunity comes,” she said. “I’m going to be ready for it.”

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.