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Twice in the last two school years, the coronavirus pandemic forced a delay to the start of Guam High’s cross country season.

It hasn’t seemed to faze the Panthers, though, as they repeated last week as island champions.

Senior Alex Rink ran the 3.12-mile course Thursday at Two Lovers’ Point in 18 minutes, 16.08 seconds, while Keira Paz took second for the girls in 21:43.31 pacing the Panthers to the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam boys and girls all-island titles.

This season started a month late due to a spike in coronavirus cases on island, and the 2020 season was pushed back to last February and March. The IIAAG normally runs its season in the fall.

“At the outset, it was challenging having to deal with the protocols, but we managed to keep motivated and continue to train,” said longtime Panthers coach Joe Taitano.

Though no meets were scheduled in September, DODEA permitted the Panthers’ football, cross country and volleyball teams to continue practicing and conditioning.

IIAAG and the public-school Interscholastic Sports Association each got the go-ahead to start competition in October. The Panthers ran the table during the regular season as well as the all-island finals.

“Winning the championships made it worthwhile,” Taitano said.

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