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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cross Country

This is the time of year where the international scene slows nearly to a standstill, save a few major marathons. Collegiate cross country is still in the "it doesn't really matter that much" part of the season. But in Ohio, yesterday was THE day of the year for the vast majority of high school runners, as it was their conference championship.

My boys had their City League Championship yesterday. First off, let me tell you the Toledo City League is a wierd conference. It's unique among Ohio's big-school conferences in that it is comprised of both public and private schools. Katie Holmes went to one of the schools in the league, and if Suri Cruise went there you might have a family or two who looked down their noses at her for being "new money". There are two working-class suburban schools in the league. And there are city schools too, one of which has 90% of its students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

The competitive result is bizarre. St. John's is ranked #2 in Ohio and #6 in the midwest and St. Francis is ranked #20 in Ohio, while two schools cannot even field a full team and two more struggle to get five runners in the field. In other sports the disconnect is almost as bad; Central Catholic's football team is the defending state champ while others average a win a year.

Under such circumstances, my school (situated in a mixed middle-class/working class urban/suburban area) is destined to be in the middle except for a great or an awful year. We were sixth out of the twelve yesterday. Our top runner ran the best race of his life and got 22nd, just missing out on the second-team All-City status that comes with a top 20 placing.

Back when I ran in this league, places 21 through 30 earned awards and were given Honorable Mention All-City status (as all the other sports have First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention). This was eliminated when some coaches complained that their JV runners ran faster than some of these varsity award winners, which is unavoidable in a conference with such a competitive imbalance.

I say too bad! Or at least, give awards and Honorable Mention status to the ten best times of the day after those first 20 placings.

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