On the continuing adventures of a Cross Country Mom, I thought I would give a very brief explanation of how X/C is won or lost. Unlike basketball, football, baseball, even soccer, in X/C it is the lowest score that wins. And it is the only team sport I can think of where there is a possible perfect score (in individual competition there is gymnastics and ice skating, etc.). By the way, while each individual's score is important in X/C, it is the team score that determines the winner.

While many think of X/C as a pretty solitary effort, an idea perpetuated by the fact that on most courses there are very few places fans can even see the runners, it is, in fact, a team sport. And as with all team sports, the better the individual effort, the better the team scores.

At last year's home meet, I witnessed one of the most moving gestures in all my years as a sports fan. Two of our varsity girls were running stride for stride, right up to the last 100 yards. As they neared the chute (finish line) they locked hands and at a full sprint crossed the line at precisely the same time. To me, that is the ultimate in "team-ness". They pushed each other to do their very best right through to the end. Then they turned and hugged each other. Sentimental? Maybe. But the ultimate in "team-ness" as I see it.

A couple of weeks ago, we competed at the Wahkiakum Invitational. Before the boys varsity race, there was excited discussion about getting "a perfect score." If five of our runners took the first five spots across the finish line, we would score points for first (1), second (2), third (3), fourth (4) and fifth (5), added together, 15 points. It didn't matter which of our five guys came in, as long as they were the first five. I don't know what you've heard lately about teenage boys. Maybe you think they're self-serving, crave attention, or whatever. But what I overheard that day was pure "team-ness."

It makes me proud once again to be an Ilwaco Cross Country Mom.

Part Two-Keep on Running

The climax of this continuing story is that this past week, our boys varsity did earn a perfect score at their home meet. Too bad so many of you missed it; I don't think it's done very often, and it was a spectacular highlight and fitting tribute to the teamwork and tenacity of our runners this season.

But do you want to know a little secret about how all this "team-ness" happens? Every night before a meet, 25 cross country athletes descend on some parent's home (it's arranged ahead of time - they don't just show up) to consume mass quantities of spaghetti and bread and salad (no soda pop allowed during the running season). These are not voluntary dinners; these are coach-approved and coach-required meals. I know it's meant to have nutritional value, but I can't help but think there are large portions of ``team-ness" dished out and digested.

I'm sure there's plenty of fun injected into their rigid schedule too, but if you're in it for the glory, you're out of luck. There's a handful of fans in the grandstand, and some coaches and competitors milling about, but it's not like hitting that half-court shot with no time left on the clock. This is my fourth year of following X/C and I still don't know what makes these runners tick. But as long as they keep running, I'll keep being a Cross Country Mom.

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