With COVID-19 messing things up for the high school athletics calendar, many programs are taking creative measures, and for local cross-country runners, due to some innovative planning, club competition has begun.

Great Oak High School’s club runners are on a mission during this virus-affected season, with a brand-new batch of runners showing both promise and excitement as they embark on the season and challenge before them. The six-time defending Division 1 State boys’ team champions lost 6 of its top seven runners from a year ago, but Nathan Lennox and teammate Scott Kiehn showed well at the Desert Twilight Festival earlier in October.

Great Oak High School’s Nathan Lennox and teammate Scott Kiehn place second and third in the team order of the Unattached/Club Boys Sweepstakes Division race at the 2020 Desert Twilight Festival in Arizona. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Lennox (18th), a super sophomore, and Kiehn (26th) a senior, enjoyed promising varsity debuts in placing second and third in the team order in the Unattached/Club Boys Sweepstakes Division race at the 2020 Desert Twilight Festival in San Tan Valley, Arizona. Despite twins Carson and Cameron Smith not making the trip, due to COVID-19 precautions, nor having David Kankowski available, varsity newcomers Nathan Lennox and Scott Kiehn supported team frontrunner Austin Montez in this outing.

Nathan clocked 15:28 and Scott was timed in 15:42 for the misleading 5,000-meter challenge along a golf course in very warm nighttime conditions. South Temecula Track Club placed third in the race but look for these two rising stars with great attitudes to help continue the Wolfpack tradition.

“Lennox, who had a fourth-place finish in the junior varsity division of the Southwestern League Finals, and has improved dramatically since last season,” Doug Soles, Great Oak head coach, said.

“I trust my training,” said Lennox. “I know Coach Soles is going to have us ready for the season.”

Great Oak High School’s girls’ runners kick off their 2020-2021 club campaign with four runners scoring in the top 10 to power South Temecula Track Club to a 47-60 victory over Beach Cities Running Club. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“It’s great that we finally started racing and I’m very happy with our performance in this race,” Kiehn said, who competed as deep as the CIF-SS Prelims last year for the deep Great Oak program. “Coach Soles didn’t put too much pressure on us, and I kind of felt accustomed to the fast competition because of the training we did.”

Competing as Newbury Park Athletic Club while “summertime rules” are in effect for California Interscholastic Federation schools during the pandemic calendar, the squad stuffed all five scorers in the finish chute among the first nine finishers in rolling to a lopsided 17-59 victory over an all-star team comprised of runners from multiple Northern California schools; Great Oak runners, competing as South Temecula Track Club, were a distant third with 101 points.

Great Oak’s girls’ runners kicked off their 2020-2021 campaign in victorious fashion, placing four scorers in the top 10 to power a 47-60 victory over Beach Cities Running Club, comprised of runners from Mira Costa High.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.