Sherman Oaks Notre Dame ends COVID layoff with cross-country meet on makeshift course

Runners prepare to race on a makeshift course.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Crespi runners prepare to race in dual meet on Saturday on a course created by Notre Dame.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

There were dozens of red cones placed around Sherman Oaks Notre Dame for a 3-mile cross-country course that sent runners around the all-weather track, the baseball field, through campus, and up and down the new three-story parking garage. Who knew that the first use of the parking garage would be for a race instead of cars?

Welcome to Saturday’s strange but inspiring cross-country meet held at Notre Dame. Runners from Crespi and Flintridge Sacred Heart also participated.

No parents were allowed to attend. Outside a gate near the track, a group of parents with their cellphones stood and clapped near the finish line. It was a scene of joy in appreciation of the opportunity for their sons and daughters to finally get the chance to compete after 11 months of being sidelined because of the coronavirus. It was also a scene of sadness — loving parents unable to share up close their children’s competition, even though they were wearing masks.


Andrew Martinez of Notre Dame won the boys’ dual meet with a time of 17:54.2. He’s a former baseball player who switched to track and cross-country, and has been waiting to compete for months, not knowing if there would be a season.

Flintridge Sacred Heart and Notre Dame girls competed in dual meet on Saturday.
Flintridge Sacred Heart and Notre Dame girls competed in dual meet on Saturday.
(Sofia Lample)

“The fact we get to run is amazing,” he said. “It’s good to be out here with my boys.”

Notre Dame went all-out to make sure the event could be held. There were nine volunteers watching over the course. The two teams were separated until the competition took place. Masks were required everywhere until the race began, leaving it up to the runners whether to use their masks during the race.

“Congratulations. We have an official event,” athletic trainer Cindy Kramer said after the start of the race.

Both runners and coaches expressed satisfaction, considering neither knew whether there would be racing this season.

“There were times we felt nothing was going to happen,” Crespi coach Jose Diaz said. “We kept our ears open for any ray of hope.”

Said Martinez: “It was frustrating because we didn’t know if we were going to have a season. But we ended up having one.”


Izzy Mozillo of Flintridge Sacred Heart ran 21:51.5 to record the top time for girls in a dual meet with Notre Dame.