Should elementary school aged kids be allowed to compete in middle school races?

  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    Wondering what people's thoughts are on this. Should middle school cross country races be strictly for 6th-8th grade runners? Should high school races strictly be for 9th-12th grade? I know there are a few elementary school aged kids who are talented enough to compete, but there are also some middle school aged kids who are talented enough to compete at the high school level. What do high school coaches think about allowing middle school aged kids to compete in high school races? Other sports, football, baseball, basketball, etc...do not allow elementary school aged kids to play their sports in middle school until they reach that age. So, why is cross country any different? How many younger runners is it ok to allow in races? One? 50? 100? Where's the cutoff? Just wondering what people's thought are on this!
  • User
    bisoncoach
    My thought is, sure, let them run, but just don't call it a middle school race. My daughter ran in a "middle school race" last week where there were at least 25 girls (1/3 of the field) who were not in middle school! No big deal, but when the field gets too crowded they should split them up.
  • Calista Psichopaides
    User
    caliboo12
    In my opinion, it is not right. Middle school races named middle school for a reason. They are set up for the middle school kids to run in, and just for them. All kids should computer with kids around their own age. How hard is it to set up a elementary race? I mean really!
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    What about middle school aged kids running in the high school races? Are high school coaches ok with that? Or.... how about the state qualifiers? Should elementary aged kids be running in the middle school state qualifier races? This type of thing is happening. Not wanting this to be a point of contention, but more of just wondering why this is allowed when there are plenty of races and running clubs, that have races for each of the age groups.
  • Terri Rhodes
    User
    tlrhod12
    @Mousehouseof4
    This year there has been girls that are in the 7th and the 8th grades that have ran for high school teams. It seems odd that a girl would be allowed to run high school XC for 6 years. My understanding is once they run at the high school level then they are no longer allowed to run in middle school. If that true? I guess it just depends on each individual.
  • Len Jeffers
    Coach
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    coachlj65
    @tlrhod12

    I could be wrong since I don't have middle school runners, but it is my understanding that once an 8th grader is put on a high school roster, they can no longer run in a middle school race. And 7th graders are not allowed to run high school period.

    Also only 8th graders that are in the same building as 9-12 / under the same administration, are allowed to run high school.

    Someone else will probably know these rules better than me so if I am incorrect on anything, feel free to correct these.
  • Jasen Parks
    Site Admin
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    JParks
    Here is my $.02

    if your area has the option for EL, MS, HS races then run in your correct level! It is best for everyone.

    Now if your area does not have an EL league or races, and if you have some gifted runners that want to run.... I would run them in the MS JV races only (exhibition). Same thing with MS moving up to HS.

    That being said, there are reasons most EL races are 1 mile, MS is 2 miles, and HS is 3 mile or 5K. (Development) You must use your judgement on letting your child run up. It can be a good experience or you can burn them out or worse get them injured.

    I have seen coaches run MS kids in HS JV races and pull them at the 2 mile mark because they really have no good option for them to run anywhere else. This could be a great thing for this kid because they have no other good option. Also this will hopefully start more coaches talking and build a MS league where we had none.

    As for the TSSAA rules an 8th grader can run up if on the same campus and such for more details ask coach @aetheridge he has a two story soap box on this.
  • Coach
    Slipstream Edited
    No middle school kids in high school races (except for those 8th graders as detailed above).

    I think that where a lot of the problem comes in is at the middle school level. Many middle schools are members of the TMSAA and many are not. The TMSAA does not allow participation below the 6th grade so anyone in grades 1-5 should be in an elementary race.

    Here are some situations that I see:
    1) TMSAA allows 6-8
    2) Non-TMSAA schools may allow 5-8 (they are in their middle schools)
    3) Some MS leagues or individual schools may only allow 7-8 graders to participate even if they are part of the TMSAA. This is the main reason for some of the confusion.

    Parents do not understand why their 6th grader cannot run for their school when XYZ school down the street lets 6th graders run in middle school. As a result some meets are accepting 'unattached 6th grade runners' into their meets. Sometimes this is hard to catch with online entry. Not only are parents entering these 6th graders, school coaches may also be entering them as 'unattached." Then in an area like Northeast Tennessee we have meets that include Southwest Virginia runners. In SWVA, 8th graders at a high school's feeder school can run on the HS JV team. The HS may not have an 8th grade but they may have 8th graders running on the HS (JV) level. This may add some further confusion in this area for followers of the sport.

    Personally I have a problem with some schools allowing 7-8 and others allowing 6-8. There need to be more structure with what is allowed at the MS level. I think that if the TMSAA allows 6-8 then that is what we should allow and if a league or school does not want to allow 6th then we should not have a problem allowing those 6th graders to run unattached.
  • Lance Winders
    Coach
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    marathonlance
    I think you can find a good answer to this question if you are willing to go back a few years and look at some results from XC meets as well as road races. Also check out the TN ST road race records. I think you will find that most of the young bright stars fade when they get into HS due to over running and racing. As a parent of four runners, it is sometimes tempting to show what they can do. I want them to progress slowly and enjoy improving each year. I have certain distances that I let my kids race when they get to a given age. I also limit the amount of races they run each year. This keeps them hungry. So far, they all have shown continued interest in the sport.
    My personal opinion is to let them enjoy their success at their own grade level. When they get out of college, they can run races against other runners of all ages all they want.
  • Albert Wamack
    User
    wamack
    Someone wrote "Also check out the TN ST road race records. I think you will find that most of the young bright stars fade when they get into HS due to over running and racing."

    I think they need to go back and check their research. The kids in the record books for the most part all run in college. I just watched a 5th grader get 5th overall in a very competitive Middle school Race at the Bristol Cross. Why discourage kids to run and compete. We could just let them eat and become very unfit. Come on guy encourage not discourage.
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    wamack
    Someone wrote "Also check out the TN ST road race records. I think you will find that most of the young bright stars fade when they get into HS due to over running and racing."

    I think they need to go back and check their research. The kids in the record books for the most part all run in college. I just watched a 5th grader get 5th overall in a very competitive Middle school Race at the Bristol Cross. Why discourage kids to run and compete. We could just let them eat and become very unfit. Come on guy encourage not discourage.


    @wamack

    That 5th grader you mention runs for slipstream and they have her listed as a 6th grader. If she's a 5th grader, Bristol Cross had an elementary school race for 5th-6th grade girls and boys. Why have her run up? Following that logic, I can think of several middle school runners that should compete at the high school level already! What is the TSSAA rules on this? I think in most sports, athletes are only eligible to compete for 4 years in high school. What's the eligibility in middle school? If runners run up, do they use a year of their eligibility by doing so?
  • User
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    thomasrweaver
    @wamack
    I think the tn records for young runners shows about half the kids holding records at young ages are not heard from again if you research within 5 years after their records. I researched this extensively. Furthermore I personally spoke with one of these young runners who still holds several of those records. He is now a college graduate. He and his brothers hold several of those records you speak of. Yes this particular runner went on to run at a division 1 college. However, he is quick to point out that his father was a competitive runner who pushed them at very young ages. By age 12, he was completely burned out and did not run again until junior in high school. So the talent was always there but came very close to him never running again. Each kid is different and just because they dominate in elementary and middle school, means absolutely nothing when they get to high school with much more competition. The young runner in their division will achieve but fear the inevitable when they are humbled when they are running in high school where most are training extensively to compete. We all know in middle school and elementary there is much less competition because of their age and level of committment/ non-commitment with the exception of a very few select programs. Some of those progams do a great job of developing these young runners which proves to pay dividends for the competitive depth of the high school programs they feed. You can also see some of the kids that dominated in middle school, later prove to be average runners in high school. Too much success early on sometimes is not the best thing. It breeds entitlement and over-confidence of which they more often than not, are humbled when they see that talent alone will not guarantee them a 1st place finish everytime.
  • Albert Wamack
    User
    wamack
    Someone wrote-I can think of several middle school runners that should compete at the high school level already! What are the TSSAA rules on this? I think in most sports, athletes are only eligible to compete for 4 years in high school. What's the eligibility in middle school? If runners run up, do they use a year of their eligibility by doing so?

    The TSSAA does not regulate Middle Schools; TMSSAA only regulates Middle Schools that belong to the TMSSAA which is very few. The TSSAA can regulate from the top down not the bottom up. If a kid wants to race let them run. I agree that kids should not be forced to run. Some kids just want to run and not all communities have great youth running programs like Knoxville. Knoxville host a complete season of elementary cross country races to run at the same time as the Middle School races. The area you live in may not have a elementary program so then let them run in middle school races. Why was this topic brought up anyway?
  • Lance Winders
    Coach
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    marathonlance
    Well, actually I do encourage kids to run and race. I just think they should be brought along slowly. I have started a new MS XC team this year and hope to get a HS XC team next year. I also teach Physical Education at a K-8 school with 800+ students. I have all my 2-8 graders to run a mile each year and I keep a school record board on my gym wall with the top 5 boys and girl times for each grade as well as the top all time top 20 for Elem and MS. I would say I do encourage them to run and run fast.
    I ran only a few track meets in HS. I did so only to get out of class early. So for the most part I just tell people I didn’t run until after I got out of HS. I walked on to a smaller D1 school. It was all so new and exciting to me. We had about 26 guys on the team the first few weeks. Most of them were successful HS runners from KY. Slowly but surely they began dropping like flies. Some said they just didn’t want to run anymore and some didn’t like playing second fiddle to other runners. By the end of the season we only had about 12 guys left. I saw this pattern continue each year on a smaller scale. I ended up progressing more than I had ever imagined.
    I have continued to run because I just love to compete.
    I think you need to go back again and look at those ST records for all the distances. There is a very low percentage that has gone on to run successful careers in college.
    I would rather ere on the safe side.
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    This topic was brought up because there are elementary school aged kids being allowed to run in middle school races... EVEN when the meet has elementary races scheduled for their age group. My concern is how many elementary school runners is allowed? If you allow one, why not allow 100 if they want to try it? And, how low of an age do we allow? Can 7 years olds compete in middle school races if they want to? We all know that the majority of elementary aged kids will not run a middle school pace. But, if you make an exception for one or two runners, you have to open it up for as many younger runners to run if they want. The Trailblazer is coming up in a few weeks. It's a qualifying race for middle schoolers to qualify for the State meet. Will elementary school aged kids be running in it, and if so, for what purpose? Just to say they did it? I think there's a time and place for everything. Let elementary school aged kids be "stars" of their age groups! What do they have to gain by running up? Except, as how others have stated...eventual burn out.
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    What about the Trailblazer? I have an 8 year old that's interested in running after watching his sisters run in meets. If we allow elementary aged runners to run in middle school meets, then perhaps I should enter him and see how he does?
  • Coach
    Slipstream
    @Mousehouseof4

    The Trailblazer will have a 3-4-5 gr Elementary race. However, we also allow 5th graders to run in the Middle School race. Why? This is because some middle schools allow 5th through 8th graders to run on their school team. AT the MS state those 5th graders will need to run in the elementary race unless meet management allows different. A lot of middle schools have different rules about who they allow to run on their school team. Some allow 5-8, some 6-8 and some 7-8. Unless there is some type of regulation that covers all schools then all this talk is useless and just stirs up stuff that many of you are not familiar with. Let the meet directors, school coaches, and parents deal with what is allowed at specific meets.
  • User
    bisoncoach
    Doesn't state law define "middle school" as 6th, 7th and 8th grade? Again, if you are going to call it a "middle school" race, shouldn't it be confined to actual MIDDLE SCHOOLERS? If not, then just let everybody run - Toddlers, Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, High School, College, etc.
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4 Edited
    Last year, you allowed a 4th grader from your club, Slipstream, to run in the Middle school race at Trailblazer. There are several parents and coaches that I've heard comment/question at meets on whether or not that will be allowed again this year. There doesn't seem to be any rules or regulations as far as elementary school aged children running in middle school races, so that is why this was brought up. As I said in an earlier post, this is not meant to be a point of contention, but more of should there be regulations? And if so, what would those regulations be? Or, is it a free for all that any elementary runner can run in middle school races? What are the pros and cons of this? I also proposed the question about middle schoolers running in high school races. Middle school seasons are soon over, so why shouldn't middle schoolers run in the high school races, once their middle school seasons are over? (Other than you have TSSAA saying 4 years of eligibility once they are in 9th grade). If I'm understanding your post Slipstream, you are saying that 5th graders will be allowed to run at Trailblazer if they are part of a school that has a 5th-8th grade team, or can any 5th grader run unattached? And if so, why have an elementary race that includes 5th grade? Just looking for discussion, and not trying to stir something up. These are legitimate questions.
    Also, my questions are for everyone, not directed towards any one person, team, or club.
  • Coach
    Slipstream Edited
    @Mousehouseof4

    At the Trailblazer we have always allowed 5th graders in run in the middle school race. There just has not been a lot of them and generally they finish back in the pack. We will allow any 5th grader that wants to run in the middle school race do so at Trailblazer. However, they must understand that they cannot qualify for the State MS meet since we state 6-8 specifically for that event. They can run in the elementary race there. This issue is a lot more complicated than many realize. We do have some 6th graders (ok for middle school races by most) who have been running middle school races unattached because their school does not allow them to run for the school. Should they be allowed? In processing entries many schools do not even include grades so there is not much of a way for grades to be checked unless you attempt to contact each school and that is a big hassle.

    I am not opposed to there being some guidelines for all schools and events as to what they allow but it needs to be the same across the board. Right now there is nothing unless you are a TMSAA member and some of those schools are more restrictive. Either everyone allows 5-8, 6-8, or 7-8. Don't penalize a 6th grader because his school does not allow 6th graders to run while most area schools do.

    As far as Slipstream goes we do not involve ourselves with entering our members into cross-country meet during the school season (either scheduling or coaching). Some will communicate with me to keep me informed about how they are doing but I rarely am able to make their meets. We also want our members to be in the sport for the long haul and not just for a few glory moments in their youth.

    This is my final post on this matter.
  • User
    bisoncoach
    @Slipstream
    Very well stated, Slipstream. Clears it up for me! Only actual "middle schoolers" will be allowed to run in the upcoming KTC middle school state championship meet in Knoxville. Calling it a "state championship" meet is a little off-the-mark, but that is a topic for another post.
  • User
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    Mousehouseof4
    @Slipstream Your post was very well stated and makes sense when you talk about the different grades allowed to run in different middle schools, and the problems with regulating that. Thank you for clearing up your thoughts on this subject. Again, my questions were meant to be thought provoking and not meant to be a point of contention with anybody. I have 4 runners in my family ranging from elementary age through high school and am just trying, by my questions, to make the sport competitive and fun for runners of all ages. :)
  • Jasen Parks
    Site Admin
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    JParks
    bisoncoach
    @Slipstream
    Very well stated, Slipstream. Clears it up for me! Only actual "middle schoolers" will be allowed to run in the upcoming KTC middle school state championship meet in Knoxville. Calling it a "state championship" meet is a little off-the-mark, but that is a topic for another post.


    @bisoncoach


    Why is it "a little off-the-mark"?