As first reported by Paul Schwartz of northjersey.com, the biggest factor in Wennersten's decision is the long term health implications of COVID-19.
"Fortunately, I'm healthy physically, and also fortunate to not have had COVID, and I feel fit and am looking forward to running fast times..."
Wennersten, who ran 17:53.55 to place eighth in the Garden State Track Club 5K Fall Showcase this past Saturday, said this was one of the toughest decisions of her life. She also stressed that she is healthy and that she plans to run for the Garden State Track Club this season.
"Fortunately, I'm healthy physically, and also fortunate to not have had COVID, and I feel fit and am looking forward to running fast times this fall with the GSTC Showcase Series in a safe and meaningful set of races, where everyone is tested,'' said Wennersten, a junior. "Completely eliminating risk is impossible, but we're trying to manage and reduce risk as safely as possible."
Wennersten, who has chosen the remote-learning option provided by Ridgewood, which allows in-person instruction two days a week with the other days remote, said that if the NJSIAA Group Meet and Meet of Champions, and the Nike Team Nationals weren't canceled, it would have made her decision even more difficult.
"All things aside, if the team had the opportunity to compete at states or NXN, that would have been a very difficult decision to make between the risks and benefits,'' said Wennersten. "It has truly been one of the most difficult decisions of my life. However, to take a risk of practicing with 150 teammates on a large team every day for two months, after a previous eye opening team case over the summer, to run at leagues or sectionals, is a huge risk for me as a distance runner. and for my family, including my grandparents as well, who I see multiple times a week.''
Wennersten said there are still so many unknown risks with COVID-19.
"Additionally, the short and long term risks that are still being discovered for people, endurance athletes especially, who might have long term aspirations could be life changing,'' she said.
Wennersten said she will never stop supporting her teammates at Ridgewood.
"Despite all this, I am confident that the Ridgewood team will have an amazing season and I will be rooting for them! I'm also super excited for the opportunities I have to be able to train and compete during tough times for everyone. Hope to see everyone soon!''
Wennersten had a sensational sophomore season on the trails for Ridgewood last fall.
She ran 17:47 at the Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park, a sophomore course record and tied for No. 8 in in course history. Wennersten also won the Bergen County XC Meet of Champions title and was first at the North 1 Group 4 Sectional meet.
Wennersten also helped Ridgewood to runner-up finishes at the State Group 4 meet, the Meet of Champions, and at the Team Nationals Northeast Regional. In their first appearance ever at Team Nationals, Ridgewood placed 20th.
Her indoor season was just as impressive.
Last winter, Wennersten ran huge PR's of 4:51.60 in the mile and 10:43.72 in the 3200. The 10:43.72 came when she placed second at the Meet of Champions, and she ran the 4:51.50 to place eighth at the prestigious Millrose Games.