The 2015 high school cross country season is drawing to a close. The state meet will be hosted this weekend in Fort Dodge, and this marks the first year that girls and boys will race the same distance.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has slowly been increasing the distance high school girls race, at the dismay of some rural coaches who warned that the move to a 5k instead of a 4k could destroy the sport.
“People had the concern that in the smaller classes specifically that they might not be able to get enough young ladies to participate and run that distance, and so we would start losing the team element in cross country,” says John Overton, Administrative Assistant for Cross Country for the Iowa High School Girls Atheltic Union.
During this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks Overton and Sheryl Book, who is head cross country and track coach for Westwood High School in Sloan, Iowa and part of the IHSGAU advisory committee.
Book was concerned about the change when it was first presented. She's been coaching for more than 30 years at the rural Iowa district.
“Our kids tend to be at school at 6:30 in the morning and don’t get home until 9:30 until night because they are active in everything. Their recovery time was my concern. I was worried some of our kids were going to say, ‘I’m just too tired,'” she explains.
Schools did not see a dip in participation, however, and Overton says that participation in the sport is up statewide.