Welcome to the extended season, Sun City Harriers! This post is meant for the “newbies” who have never gone to Junior Olympics Regionals before. I’m a “why” person so please read to the end but I will do my best to explain the “why” behind what we are doing.
Up to this point in our training, we have been working on building a “base” for our Harriers. This is essentially a base level of fitness on which to build the next phase of our training. Over the next four weeks, we will add more anaerobic training (higher intensity training) while continuing to work on general fitness. In the final 2 weeks before Regionals, we will shorten the training and focus on building speed.
Our goal for the extended season is first and foremost for the Harriers to have fun. If we miss this goal, it doesn’t matter how fast we run. Next to having fun, we would like the Harriers to learn the discipline of training and racing well.
The regular season provides an opportunity for all athletes to try out the sport of cross country. The extended season is likewise the perfect setting for young aspiring athletes to learn how to seriously compete. So here is our post-season schedule:
1. October 29th – Rain City Invitational at Seattle’s Woodland Park. This meet was wasn’t originally on our schedule but we decided to add it to give our Harriers another opportunity to race the Junior Olympic distance (2k, 3k, and 4k). Woodland Park is a very hilly course and there will be a number of teams from Western Washington there.
2. September 12th – Inland Northwest Association Finals at Spokane’s Mead High School. This mostly flat course is the beginning of the Junior Olympic series. All meets from this date forward are required because they are qualifying meets. The top 35 in this race qualify for Regionals the next weekend in Portland. Honestly, most races at Association have fewer than 35 runners (except for perhaps the 12 & under age group which sometimes has up to 40 runners.) Our goal is field several full teams at the association meet. (A full team requires 5 scoring runners.) If parents are unable to travel but kids still want to compete, we may be able to help transport athletes to Spokane. The meet doesn’t start until noon this Saturday so we’ll be leaving Yakima early and coming back the same day after the races.
3. November 19th – Regionals meet in Portland. This is the championship meet for the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The top 30 individuals and 5 teams in each race qualify for nationals in Hoover, Alabama (suburb of Birmingham). This cross-country meet will be the fastest meet for youth this year, which is why we like to bring our Harriers to the meet. By running against the fastest runners, you understand what it takes to get to this level and can build up to it the next year. Typically this race will have about 40 runners in the 8 & under age group to about 110 runners in the 12 & under age group. If travel to Portland is too pricy, talk to coaches Aleah or myself. Scholarships are available to help families travel to meets like this.
4. December 9th – Junior Olympic Nationals. We have a few athletes gearing toward this meet. I also believe our 8 & under, 10 & under, and 12 & under boys as well as 10 & under girls team have a chance to qualify IF we could get a full team of five athletes competing all the way to Regionals. A team must have a minimum of five athletes and can have a maximum of eight. Both Coach Casey and myself have already bought tickets to Alabama and will be making the trip whether we have one or twenty athletes qualify.
In cross country it is difficult to predict how your child will place in a particular meet based on previous times. The difficulty of a particular course, race day conditions, running surface and footing dramatically effect a runner’s finishing time. Coach Casey has compiled a list of times from previous national and regional meets to give you a rough idea of where your child might place at both the Association and Regional meets. Please just understand there is a definite margin of error to it. ALSO and more importantly, we all plan on getting faster over the coming weeks as our form and fitness improve. Use your own judgement whether to share it with your child (everyone is different).
In conclusion, it is not too late to register if you or your Harrier (or even a Wenas Valley runner) would like four or five more weeks of running (eight for nationals). It has been a pleasure watching parents and athletes build relationships over the season. I think back to my years running on a youth club team. I am still friends with some of those guys.
See everyone at practice Monday at 5pm.
Please feel free to call if you have questions as we understand by the time you get to this point in the season there are more to things than what kind of popsicles are you going to have? 941-5191