It is my belief that the main purpose of extra-curricular activities, especially athletics, is to enhance the overall high school experience and to teach lessons that will benefit the participants for the rest of their lives. I believe in teaching young people the value of hard work and self-discipline and the importance of teamwork and working with others. We teach the value of goal-oriented behavior and striving to become your best. We teach young people how to make tough decisions and to learn to appreciate the importance of a lifetime of fitness. We strive to teach young people how to be able to do all of these things on their own.
Practice begins at 3:30 everyday unless otherwise noted. Athletes are expected to be dressed out and signed in prior to 3:30 so that we may begin on time. Tardiness is unacceptable and it is not a desirable quality in any person, regardless of age. We demand that our athletes are on time so that they may learn the value of being punctual. Being late is not only rude but will be met with more severe punishments when our kids enter the professional world.
OUR POLICY: If a student needs to miss practice or they know they will be late, I ask that I receive written notification, preferably a day in advance. Any student that has provided written notification of a legitimate reason for being late or absent will be excused. We keep daily records of the kids’ attendance and we punish those with multiple tardies or any un-excused absences. If you are going to miss practice or be late you need to use the google form to communicate absences.
Tardy 1-3: Warning.
Tardy 4: Miss meet.
Tardy 5: Dismissed from team.
Unexcused Absence 1: Miss Meet.
Unexcused Absence 2: Dismissed from team.
Practice will begin at 3:30 and typically dismiss around 5:30 or 5:45. We practice Monday through Friday and most of our meets are on Saturdays with a couple of exceptions. We will practice on the Saturdays that we don't have meets. We plan our practices intelligently to help our athletes achieve a maximal level of improvement while reducing the risk of injury. Our typical practice routine is one day of race specific training followed by a day of aerobic training, etc…. The workouts are intended to take the athlete out of their comfort zone and push them to a new level. They are also intended to teach race pace and racing tactics. We include general strength training, warm-ups, stretching and cool downs daily. We pride ourselves on working hard but more importantly, working smart.
The girls and boys race distance for all meets is 5k (3.1 miles) unless changed due to any special circumstances, i.e. weather, heat, etc...
Meets and Determination of Teams
A member of the Cross Country team may run in seven regular season meets (this does not include regional or state meets). The Varsity team is comprised of the top 7 runners based on performance and the coaching staff’s knowledge of the runners. The JV team is usually unlimited but may be limited to 7 at some meets. The C-Team is always unlimited except at the Rim Rock Classic. The coaching staff will always look to put kids in the proper race that will benefit the team while promoting the athlete’s physical and psychological development.
Cross Country Meets
At any level, the top 5 runners for every team have their places totaled to form their team score. The lower your team score is, the better your team finishes. A perfect cross country score is 15 points. The 6th and 7th runners score isn’t included in the team score but they can still displace other teams’ runners and push their team score higher. In the event of a tie, the team with the better finishing 6th runner wins. This is how Saint Thomas Aquinas won its very first cross country state title in 1994.
Probably the best part of cross country is that everyone gets to participate. There is no “playing time” or “bench warmers.” Everyone on the team gets to run at 7 regular season meets including the EKL championship.
Parent support at the Meet
These kids work extremely hard in practice and the meets are their time to shine. The races are long and tough so obviously the more support we can give them the better they will be. We will give kids time schedules well in advance so they can pass the info on to you. Check out our schedule page for more info on the meets. Plan to be early for your kid’s race so you can check out the course and find the spots you want to cheer from. Remember to be mindful of your surroundings and stay off the course and out of the way of other runners. Do not attempt to make physical contact with your son or daughter (touching, pat on the back, high five, etc...) during the race. This will be considered giving aid and result in disqualification.
When the kids start warming up one hour before their race and when the kids are cooling down and stretching after their race, this is considered part of their “game time,” or race day obligation. These activities are things they need to do in order to perform their very best and to ensure a good recovery so they avoid injury and soreness. Please allow them this time before the race to get focused, and the time afterward to aid recovery and to be with their teammates. Please don’t take your child straight of the course after their race and throw them in the car to head off to piano lessons or soccer practice. It is important that our athletes stay and cool down and stretch with their teammates. We also want all of our athletes to stay for the entire meet to support the kids in other races and to cheer at the awards ceremony. Sometimes cross country can seem like an individual event, but it is a team sport, especially here at Saint Thomas Aquinas!
Almost all of the meets will have awards for all of the races. The number of individual medals and team trophies is decided on by the host school. Typically the top 20 or so in each race will medal and a team trophy awarded to the top varsity squad.
There are also awards given to our athletes at our annual awards banquet following the season. Special recognition is given to both male and female athletes in the following categories: MVP, Outstanding Newcomer, Most Improved and Most Inspirational. These awards are based on the accomplishments of the season and decided by the coaching staff with input from the athletes. Most Inspirational is always voted on by the student athletes. All award winners and varsity letter recipients will receive special recognition at our post season banquet.
Earning a Varsity Letter
A. Run in 4 or more varsity meets during the course of one season. If an athlete is injured while running at the varsity level an unable to return to competition they may still letter upon the coach’s recommendation.
B. Run varsity at the EKL, Regional or State meets.
C. Any senior who has been a positive and productive member of the team for multiple seasons and has shown tremendous levels of commitment and leadership. This is to be determined by the coaches.
D. Any athlete that receives special recommendation from the coaches.
Nutrition and Hydration
There are several things athletes must take care of around the clock and on their own. Two of those things are nutrition and hydration. Two of the most important things an athlete must tend to if they want to stay safe and do their best. The day teenagers believe that nutrition is important will be the day we finally start to see just how good they can be! Eating a healthy balanced diet can do wonders for an athlete. There are the obvious elements of providing energy and helping with athletic efficiency, but the right foods can also aid in recovery, strengthen bones and help boost the immune system. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician but I have provided the athletes with some basic nutrition info that will be helpful for young athletes.
It is important that the athlete’s diet contains a good source of complex carbohydrates. This is the main source of energy for runners. It is also important that athletes eat some sort of healthy snack shortly after they race or finish a hard workout. Research indicates that the body recovers faster when healthy foods are ingested 20-60 minutes following vigorous exercise, the sooner the better.
IRON - Iron is an often overlooked part of the diet that plays an extremely important role for athletes. Iron helps to transport oxygen through the blood to the muscles. Muscles that function without adequate oxygen suffer greatly. Athletes, especially females, are at risk due to increased iron loss associated with exercise, menses and low dietary intake. If the athlete is not eating enough sources of iron they could get their iron from a nutritional supplement. A simple multiple vitamin plus iron you can pick up at any grocery or drug store will do wonders to keep your child out of risk of anemia. This is a simple and cheap way to make sure your son or daughter is getting enough iron as well as all their vitamins.
HYDRATION - We simply cannot stress this enough. The body cannot function without water. If your body has just 2% less than its required fluids you will start to feel fatigued. Once you break down from dehydration, it becomes easier for your body to break down again. Athletes must work on hydration around the clock. If you are thirsty it already too late- Thirst is an indication of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to get a drink. PARENTS- Help them out at home with this one. See that they always are sipping from a big glass of water.
Rest and Sleep
Definitely the most overlooked aspect of the high school athlete's training. Studies show that teenage athletes need a minimum of 8 hours (more is better) of sleep each night to fully recover. When an athlete is fully recovered they not only perform better regularly, but they are also able to push harder in practice and therefore make much greater improvements in the meets. It is very simple, if you want to be your best you need to rest! This is where time management plays a very important role. Athletes should be eating dinner, doing homework, and getting sleep after practice instead of spending late hours on the phone, internet or watching TV. Nobody said there wouldn’t be sacrifices involved if you really want to be your best.
It is also known that 2 nights before competition it is critical that athletes get a good nights sleep. The best way to ensure maximal recovery is to establish a regular sleep pattern. 10-6 every night is far more beneficial than going to bed and waking up at different a time everyday.
Shoes and Clothing
Every runner needs a good pair of running shoes. These shoes will last anywhere between 300 and 500 miles. That is long enough to make it through t he season. It is important that the shoe fit properly as everyone’s foot size and shape are different. Different brands make different sizes, widths, etc... We encourage our runners to go to a running specialty store such as Garry Gribble’s on 119th and Quivira. Of course you don’t have to, but they specialize in finding the proper fit for your foot. The wrong shoe can put strain on the foot, legs, hips, etc... This often leads to injury. Try to get your child in the proper shoe, it’s worth it!
Many of the kids wear spikes for the races. These are optional but very helpful. They are very light weight and the spikes are helpful for running on grass, especially when it’s raining.
We do require all runners to purchase a team shirt, personalized sweats and a bag. Most of them have already done this. The shirt is new each year and in 2018 is $10. The bag is $5 and the sweats are $50 (25 top and 25 bottom). You only need to buy the sweats and bag once so you can use them all four years. The shirt may be worn whenever, but it is required at meets. We want our kids looking like a team and we want everyone to know that we are proud to represent Saint Thomas Aquinas Cross Country! With a large team it is important to have your bag at meets to put your sweats in at the starting line. This will keep kids from losing equipment.
We will be offering spirit wear again this season and as always, it is totally optional. No one has to purchase spirit wear if they don't want it. We offer a variety of items every year.
You never know what weather Kansas will deal you. Be prepared for anything. We ask the kids to come to practice and meets prepared for anything. It is better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it. We will be issuing lockers soon so they can store gear for a rainy day. It is very helpful to have dry clothes to change into after running in the rain