Fall sports began practices Monday with six teams being fielded at St. Clair.

The first to start was the boys and girls cross country team, which holds a midnight mile on the first morning of practices each year.

A total of 27 Bulldog runners turned out for the nighttime tradition.

“Some kids couldn’t make it,” Head Coach Ben Martin said. “I predict we will end up with 35 runners this season. Because of COVID-19, we got rid of water cups and coolers. Each runner is responsible for bringing their own water. Our meet schedule got changed a bit because some meets were canceled.”

Team bonding experiences have been altered due to the virus as well.

“In the past, we would have a campout over the summer,” Martin said. “That was canceled. Overall, the first day went really well. Case Busse and Elexis Woghlgemuth won our Midnight Mile and looked sharp and in shape. Case put in over 400 miles this summer. We have some good senior leadership and it should be a fun year, despite COVID-19.”

Girls golf is entering its third season under Head Coach Jeff Van Zee and currently has eight players.

“I may try and recruit a freshman or two during their registration since I didn’t get to go recruit at the end of the school year,” Van Zee said. “Of the eight, seven are returning from last year.”

The virus may affect travel for the golf team more than play.

“Golf is a great social distance sport, so not a lot of change in practice,” Van Zee said. “We may have to do some changes when we travel to matches. We usually take the school excursion. We are discussing our options on that topic.”

Girls golf will additionally have an updated postseason format this season.

“MSHSAA is dividing golf into four classes instead of two like the previous years,” Van Zee said. “There is no longer a sectional tournament, the championship series will be district then state. There will be fewer districts and the qualifications for state have changed. District assignments will not be released until Sept.19. We will see how it works, I guess.”

Anna Reed returns for her second season as the head softball coach at St. Clair and has an estimated 17 girls trying out for the team.

“We are still considering making cuts at this time but we might have a few,” Reed said. “We will likely have around 14-15 for the both JV and varsity teams.”

Changes to the softball season will include a reduced limit of the teams involved in a preseason scrimmage or jamboree to just two. St. Clair will play its jamboree at St. James at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. MSHSAA also recommends that coaches and players wear facemasks.

Reed’s squad began practice at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

“The first day went well. We do have a few more freshmen than we anticipated for this season so that is great because they all have a lot of potential to fill an important role on our team, and we are excited about that,” Reed said. “We did decide to have our practices this week from 7:30-9:30 a.m. to avoid the heat as best as we can.”

There are a few new procedures around the practice field to help fight the spread of the virus.

“Right now we are having girls bring their own bottles of water rather than use the community jug, and we are also making sure that when we have conversations with the girls as a team and individually, that we are keeping a safe distance from one another,” Reed said. “We are suggesting that the girls be adamant about washing their hands before and after practice and using common sense. We have also been wiping down team equipment as much as we can after practice.”

Other squads on the field for St. Clair this fall include football, boys soccer and volleyball.