by Head Coach Douglas Cutler

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Several parents have asked me during the past two meets how the team scores are calculated. In case there is anyone too shy to ask, I thought I would take a moment here to explain.

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Put most simply, a team score is arrived at by adding together a teams’ top five runners’ places. For example, if a team were to have their runners’ finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in a race, they would earn a score of 15 points (1+2+3+4+5). This is known as a perfect score. The team with the lowest point total wins the meet.

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A team’s sixth runner is important because in the case of a tie, the team with the faster sixth runner wins. They are our tie-breaker. A team’s seventh runner is referred to as a “pusher”. While they are not included in a team’s points, and do not break ties, they do affect other teams’ point total. Seventh runners have the ability to push an opponents’ team score higher by finishing in front of that opponents’ fifth place runner.

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There are a few complications to this system. If a team does not field the needed five competitors for a team score, their individuals are many times not included in the team scores. For example, in the Varsity Girls’ race at the Pella Invitational, the team from PCM had only four members. Their #1 runner finished in 24th place and Kayli finished in 25th place. However, because PCM does not have a complete team, the PCM runner is removed from the team scoring, and this results in Kayli adding only 24 points to our score. Every runner behind the PCM runner moves up one point accordingly.

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The big exception to this rule is found at the Iowa High School State Championships. Individuals who do not compete with their team at the state meet do affect the team scores. This is rare in my experience, and I do not know why Iowa chooses to do it this way. It might not seem significant, but at last year’s 3A boys’ race it would have made a difference in the team standings.

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The other complication for team scoring occurs in JV races in which a team has more than seven runners (which we happily are one of). Only seven competitors can affect the team scoring. Any further runners are removed from team scoring in the same manner as incomplete teams.

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Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you are new to cross country and this is unclear. I appreciate all the interest that people take in our great sport.