St. Gregory Cross Country

Cross Country is for boys and girls Grades 1-8. Our home course is at Zelienople Community Park.

What is cross country?

Cross country, sometimes abbreviated XC or CC, is an exciting competitive team running sport offered for students in grades 1-8. Races or meets involve running a set distance over a varying terrain against one or more teams. A team consists of 5 runners for scoring purposes but can be composed of as many athletes as want to participate. This makes XC one of the few sports where everyone partcipates. There are no cuts, no substitutes, and no bench.

What are the divisions and distances?

There are three divisions – Novice, JV, and Varsity. Races are run separately for each division. Classification is based on grade. Varsity is grades 7 and 8, while JV is officially grades 5 and 6. However, any student who can complete the JV distance is encouraged to run at that level. The Novice division is offered for our youngest runners or those new to the sport. JV and Varsity run the same distance, which is 1.86 miles on our home course but may vary slightly on other courses. The Novice distance is approximately 1.3 miles.

What are the courses like?

Courses typically have changing surfaces (i.e. asphalt, grass, trail, etc.), and may run through woods, fields, or roads. There are often significant uphill and downhill portions to challenge the runners. All courses are closely monitored and kept safe for our athletes.

What is the coaching philosophy?

It is hoped that all our athletes can be inspired to find an appreciation for their God given abilities and talents to compete and encourage one another. Whether our students are running for top places, training for other sports, or simply trying to get outdoors; we want them to find joy in what they do. No matter the level of experience, athletes should strive for personal success and are encouraged to set goals and achieve personal bests. Cross country helps to build self-confidence, learn about accomplishment, and discover how to support one another through challenges.

What does it take to be successful?

Success is defined by the athlete. Goals of finishing the home course without stopping to walk or placing in Diocesan Championships are equally worthy and require the same things: Dedication, Commitment, and Communication. Dedication comes by devoting time to school and running. Commitment is found in attendance at practices to build strength and endurance but also develop team unity. Communication between coaches, athletes, and parents helps to set goals and understand the needs of the program and the athletes.

Where and when are practices and meets held?

Practices begin mid-summer and are held at the Zelienople Community Park in Zelienople or North Boundary Park in northern Cranberry Township. A schedule of times is distributed closer to the season but training typically occurs in the evenings when the weather is cooler.

Home meets are held on the St. Gregory Wolves’ Course at Zelienople Community Park. The schedule of races will be JV boys and girls, followed by Varsity boys and girls and then the Novice race. Like other sports, successful home events require parent volunteers. Our course is popular among athletes due to the “nature trail” feel and varying terrain. However, this requires significant monitoring to be safe. 12 parents are required for each home meet.

Away meets are held at various locations throughout the northern region of our diocese. Directions will be provided. The Diocesan Championship Meet closes our season and is held at Cooper’s Lake Campground near Slippery Rock in mid-October.

How are meets scored?

A cross country meet is scored by each team adding up the overall places of its top 5 finishers. As in golf, the low score wins. For example, a team that scores 26 points places ahead of a team that scores 29 points, as follows:

 St. GregorySchool X
Wolves Win!!
Place of runner 112
Place of runner 243
Place of runner 357
Place of runner 468
Place of runner 5109
Total Score2629

Cross Country Lingo

Like any sport, XC has its own language. Here is a quick guide.

  • DUAL MEET – a meet with one or two other teams
  • INVITATIONAL MEET - a multi-team meet
  • COURSE - the marked and measured route of the race
  • STARTING BOX - designated area to which a team is assigned on the starting line
  • FALSE START - leaving the starting line before the gun sounds
  • FINISH CHUTE - a rope bordered funnel past the finish line that moves runners into their single file order of finish.
  • PACE - running speed over a particular distance
  • SURGE - a tactical increase in pace during the race
  • KICK - a burst of speed at the finish of the race
  • PACK - a group of runners in close proximity
  • PERSONAL RECORD (PR) - best ever performance on a given course.
  • WARM-UP - a running and stretching routine that gradually warms up the body for intense running. Both static and dynamic stretching are encouraged.
  • COOL-DOWN - a jogging/walking routine that allows recovery after a hard race.