This week we begin our series of Championship races, and I want to take a minute to explain what that means. I think some of us familiar with USATF take for granted what we understand about this sport, and therefore struggle to effectively communicate how it works and what is expected of our athletes. So here I will try to explain as much as I can about what the next month holds for the Delta Hawks.
First, in USATF-sanctioned meets, athletes compete in age group races, which for our purposes are 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14. What race an athlete competes in is not based on an athlete's current age but what their age is on December 31st of the current year. (So, for example, someone may have to compete in the 13-14 age group all year even though he or she is 12 and doesn't turn 13 until December 31st.)
Second, we have a qualification process to move forward through what we call "Championship Season." Every area in the US is covered by a USATF Association (we are in what is called the Pacific Association which encompasses the Bay Area, Northern California, and much of Nevada). Our next meet is the Pacific Association Championship Meet in Cottonwood. The top 30 individuals and top 5 teams in each age group at that meet will advance to the next level of competition, the USATF Region 14 Championship Meet (which is in Fresno on Sunday, November 26th). Region 14 is the combination of the Pacific and Central California Associations. Similar to the Association Meet, the top 30 individuals and top 5 teams in each age group will advance to the next level of competition - the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Louisville Kentucky on December 9th.
Finally, cross country is a team sport, and in order to be a full team we need at least 5 (and up to 8) boys or girls in an age group in a race. If we have fewer than 5 kids in a race, then we do not score as a team and each athlete is competing only as an individual. For example, the Hawks only have 3 girls in the 9-10 age group and therefore we cannot advance as a team and each girl in that age group will have to finish in the top 30 of each upcoming race to advance individually. Alternatively, the 9-10 boy's team has 8 boys potentially competing in our next meet (the Association Championship) and if at least 5 of them show up then we will have enough athletes to score as a team and potentially advance as a team if they finish as one of the top 5 teams in the race.
We want to see every Hawk we can qualify for the Regional Championship Meet - and that means we need to field full teams at the Association Championship Meet. Specifically, we have a good chance to qualify a boys team in the 9-10 age group and a girls team in the 11-12 age group race; we need all our Hawks to participate in our next meet in order to do that. In addition, we expect to qualify a number of individuals in the other age group races where we don't have enough Hawks to field a full team.
Once we qualify for Regionals, we hope to advance a number of teams and individuals to the Junior Olympics in Kentucky. The opportunity to compete at a national level in any sport is something special, and I would strongly encourage any athlete to take advantage of it if it arises. However, if one of our teams qualify for Nationals, any or all of the runners on that team can travel and compete even if all of them are not able to go. We want to have teams compete at Nationals, but understand that travel to Kentucky in December may not be for everyone.
I hope that this helps answer some questions. Both Coach Galen and I are happy to have conversations with anyone on this (or anything else), please reach out and ask.
For practice this week, here is our schedule:
Monday - Intervals at the Swamp
(Meet at the Boathouse)
Tuesday - Rest & Stretch
Wednesday - On your own
Thursday - Marshall Hill Tempo
(Meet at the Boathouse)
Friday - Rest & Stretch
Saturday - Easy Run if you want
Sunday - Pacific Association Championship Cross Country Meet
We've done the work, now let's get out there and compete!
Delta Hawks Coaches