A classic race is shaping up
Spotlight on Sports
It's one of the top meets in the area, folks, and it all unfolds Thursday afternoon, Oct. 21, on the rolling green fairways at The Cedars at Dungeness golf club between Port Angeles and Sequim.
I'm talking about the Olympic League cross country championship run with all eight schools in the circuit battling for positions in the West Central District event on Oct. 30.
Many readers probably don't know a lot about cross country running. It's getting to be like a three-mile sprint for some of the runners.
A quick cross country review:
Each full team gets seven runners. (In junior varsity races, each school can have as many runners as they want, but only the first seven count for points.)
Each team gets to count the first five runners to cross the finish line, with numbers six and seven figuring in the scoring in case of ties.
In this sport, low score wins. A perfect score is 15. That would mean a team places the first five runners one through five.
Most teams have one or two top runners, but the teams that win or move on - in this case four complete teams advance to district and the top 20 individuals not on a team also qualify - have strong runners in the three, four, five, six and seven positions to garner points at the finish.
Sometimes it takes the fifth-place runner sprinting in ahead of the next team's fifth runner that makes a difference in tiebreakers.
There will be races within the races this year. Bremerton is 3A and Port Townsend is 1A, so those scores will be figured into the varsity girls and boys races for the league championship, but only Sequim, Port Angeles, Kingston, Olympic, North Kitsap and Klahowya will figure in the 2A scoring for advancement to district.
It's quite a sight to see 56 varsity runners take off at the start, near the main clubhouse. The field quickly strings out for 2.5 miles and then it's a sprint to the finish line.
The meet director is Dwayne Johnson, former cross country coach now athletic director for Port Angeles. He has put the race into the electronic age.
It used to take several hours to figure out all the scoring, but now each runner has a bar code on his number and results are given in a matter of minutes inside the big black trailer he hauls around.
Handicapping the 2010 meet
Girls - Kingston and North Kitsap have strong teams. Marina Roberts of the Buccaneers has taken up where her older sister Ruby left off and is the area's premier runner.
Look for a good battle between Audrey Lichten of Sequim and Alison Maxwell of the Riders. These veteran seniors run hard and both have strong finishes. Last week both were clocked at 19:40 for 3.1 miles and Lichten nosed out Maxwell for the win in Port Angeles.
Look for Port Angeles and Klahowya to battle it out for third and fourth to district.
Boys - Port Townsend has two very strong runners and if they get help, they should win the league title. North Kitsap is strong as is Kingston.
Look for Kingston to win, P.T. second, N.K. third.
Sequim and Port Angeles should battle for third and fourth to the 2A district meet.
Those who never have witnessed a big cross country meet hold up your hand. OK, I see a lot of hands. Come to The Cedars at Dungeness Thursday. A big cross country event never will get closer.
Scooter Chapman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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