If You Come, They Will Build It: A Small-School SW Regional Championship! (updated)

It's time to start imagining this scene with a small-school field. Photo by Alan Versaw.

So, you're a school of 500 students. You have a great cross country program, but it's a little tough to match up in a serious way against Davis, or Desert Vista, or American Fork, or any of a long list of other schools with thousands of students.

Your time has arrived!

You have seen the small school mentions in regional review articles. You have seen the small-school rankings. Your world is gradually becoming aware that small-school cross country exists, and is even flourishing, in the Southwest region. Your world is gradually becoming aware that it is meaningful to contest a separate small-school championship at NXR-SW.

The Nike Cross Regionals - Southwest race management has given the green light for regional small school championship races this fall.

Let's be clear on what these races are and what they are not.

They are, for now, "open" races. That is, if teams indicate interest and show up, they will occupy race slots on the morning of November 21 in the typical open race time frame. And, unless an excess of teams indicate an interest in the small-school championship races, there will not be a selection process or qualifying cutoff for the small-school championship races.

These are races for programs with 9-12 enrollment of less than 1000 students. Period. 1004 students doesn't cut it. Best available data will be used on enrollment counts. We already have a pretty good idea of who these schools are. You may only run students who were eligible to run in your school's program in the fall--just like the NXR-SW championship races. No all-star teams, no combined programs.

These are not qualifiers for Nike Cross Nationals. I can't say that I have any clear idea if there will ever be a Nike Cross Nationals (or equivalent thereof) for small schools. But, I am pretty sure if that is ever to happen, there must first be demonstrated concept success at the regional level.

It would help a great deal toward the success of the concept if those SW region coaches who have an interest in competing in a small-school championship race on November 21 would e-mail me (see address in the black banner area at the bottom of this page) to notify me of their interest. Feel free to ask any questions you need to ask. And, just like any other NXR-SW race, you will also need to register a team for the event (registration link here).

Note that there is no "small-school championship" option on the NXR-SW registration. Nor will there be (at least not this year). If you wish to compete in the small-school championship, you need to notify me, so we can track those teams. For the moment, there does not have to be a hard commitment; interest itself is enough for you to initiate the contact.

And, there are some questions that need to be ironed out. We're working on ironing out those questions, but you also need advance notification that the concept is on the table and waiting for your enthusiastic response. So, word is going out now. If you want this idea to happen, we need to hear from you. If there isn't enough response this year, the option will likely not be around next year.

Looming large among the questions that have to be answered are:

1. Will individuals who qualify for and run in the championship races still be able to count for their teams?

2. Will teams that qualify for and run in the championship races be allowed to have results transfer over for small-school championship race scoring?

My personal takes on the questions above (but not the official answers) are:

1. Yes, but if a team has one individual qualifying for and running in the championship race, they are only allowed six in the small-school championship race. If two running in the championship race, then only five allowed in the small-school championship race. Otherwise, a team gains an substantial advantage by scoring five and placing seven out of eight or nine. Eliminating the option of allowing a runner to run up to the championship races would seem to eliminate too many potential teams for the small-school championship idea to survive.

NOTE: Jeff Guy, the NXR-SW meet director has informed me that we can allow individuals to run in the Championship races and bring their times over to score in small-school races as well. So, #1 looks like a go. I admit this arrangement is less than ideal, but not nearly as less than ideal as disqualifying all the impacted teams from the small-school championship races.

2. No, an entire team must choose between races. It's one thing to accommodate an exceptional individual. It is quite another to accommodate an entire team and let the entire team have it both ways. And, it's probably just a little unfair to the teams in the small-school championship race not to have any opportunity to chase a team that's entirely sequestered in a different race. It also seems detrimental to the growth of a small-school championship to have entire teams moving off into the regional championship race but still allowed to "compete" as small schools. If you are a small school that has qualified for the regional championship race, congratulations--you've accomplished a great thing! But, in that case, it's probably best to save your participation in the small-school championship race for another year.

NXR-SW Small-School Championship Races: Discuss Here

I'm opening a thread specifically for the discussion of this idea that circumvents the Facebook conversation option below.

List of teams indicating interest in the small-school championship races (several of these could be pending overall championship race assignments): Battle Mountain (CO), Peyton (CO), Peak to Peak (CO), The Classical Academy (CO), Heritage Christian Academy (CO), Frontier Academy (CO), Salida (CO), Albuquerque Academy (NM), Page (AZ)... Looking for many more to come!