Readers, I hope you enjoyed the Greene County Daily World feature on the All-Area boys and girls cross country teams. Long overdue recognition for some deserving athletes.
First things first.
Credit for this piece goes not to me but to White River Valley boys and girls cross country coach Claire Records. She’s the one who suggested it.
When the Bloomington Herald Times came out with its H-T All-Area cross country teams coach Records asked me when ours was coming out. And well, I hadn’t planned on doing one.
To my recollection we hadn’t done an All-Area cross country team, at least in my time at the Daily World. I can’t remember if the paper ever did it before then.
I’m sure many of you have worked in companies where they’ve had a set way of doing things. Some of you may have had bosses or more senior co-workers who have said, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it,” rather than being receptive to new ideas or ways of doing things.
And I thought, “Why not recognize these kids for their efforts?” So I followed through on Claire’s suggestion.
And you know what? It was fun. I think it’s something we’ll keep doing.
And as coach Records said, “It gives recognition to hard-working athletes, especially some who never get any recognition.”
And the harriers are among the hardest-working athletes around.
I won’t say “the” hardest-working. I know how hard some of the football players at Eastern and Linton work in the offseason. But the cross country runners do it in a grueling, sometimes thankless sport which admittedly doesn’t get the press coverage other sports do. They put in the miles in the heat of summer, the chill of winter and all kinds of weather in between.
I’ve said before I have tremendous respect for the kids who “gut it out” and grind their way around the terrain of the cross country course. They are doing something I wouldn’t even attempt.
Of course I wasn’t an endurance athlete. And I did not enjoy running.
Athletes in other sports typically come to associate running with punishment. And coaches know the kids hate it so running is their first resort as a form of punishment.
I’ve got to tell you, I got a big chuckle when I saw the cross country kids wearing T-shirts printed with “My sport is your punishment.” Because it’s so true.
I admire each and every one of them, from the kid who wins all the races to the one who finishes dead last.
How did I narrow down the list of candidates to arrive at the final selections? I’ll detail the evaluation process I used.
First I researched all the big meets, the ones where most or all the Greene County teams were present. I’m a big nerd when it comes to research.
I assigned the most weight to the Greene County Invitational, the Mustang Invitational at Edgewood, the Shakamak Invitational and the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference meet, also at Shakamak.
The Edgewood course is a tough one with long, steep inclines. And the meet is run in August with the temperatures usually in the 90s. And several of our area runners delivered standout performances in that meet.
The SWIAC meet of course determines the all-conference teams. And it’s the last big meet before the sectionals so it gives an indication who is performing well at the end of the season.
Once I tabulated all the results the same names and their times were consistently in the top seven or eight of all the area runners.
I also considered postseason performance. There’s a special place in my heart for the kids who deliver their best performance on the big stage. “Rising to the occasion,” as my track coach Randy Lynch used to call it.
Bloomfield’s Mitchell Burch and Linton’s Crislyn Woods did just that. The two seniors went out with a bang, running career races at the Bedford Regional.
As I said at the beginning of my story, by all measures 2018 was a banner year for cross country in Greene County. With 12 of the 16 All-Area runners returning 2019 should be as well.
Five of those 12 are freshmen. And if you go to the website Timing MD and click on the Junior High SWAIC results, you’ll find quite a few up-and-comers. Cross country in Greene County appears healthy for years to come.
The future looks bright.