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Those of you following this blog know that a couple of weeks ago I talked about how Adam had to step aside in running the 3200 m so the USC/AC track team could have a better chance at making it to the State True Team finals. Well the team not only made it, they won the class A True Team title on Saturday.

For those of you not familiar with the True Team concept (don’t worry, I didn’t understand it either until this year), the scoring is based on everyone’s efforts. Typically in a track meet only the top 8 finishers count towards the scoring. But in True Team, every participant counts towards the score. So placing 15th in a race will still get the team a few extra points compared to placing 18th. The best team is not dependent on just a few good individuals, but how everyone does.

All day long the overall score had been close between the top 4 teams. Most of the time there were only 4-6 points that separated the top team from the 4th place team. As if following a Hollywood script, the winner would not be determined until the final event of the day, the pole vault.

All the boys’ teams gathered in the center of the field. Starting with 9th place, each placing team was announced. After third place was announced and USC/AC’s name hadn’t been called, the tension mounted. When Morris Area’s name was called for 2nd, the USC/AC people held their breath and then burst for joy when they were announced as the True Team Champions.

To say I’m proud of the team seems like an understatement. I have to admit that tears filled my eyes as I watched the boys accept their trophy and medals. As I watched Dalton, one of the biggest guys on the team give Adam, one of the smallest guys on the team a big bear hug, it seemed fitting.  This was a team that truly supported each other and knew how to work together to achieve great things.

Saturday, the USC/AC Boys track team did not have a bunch of superstars who won their events. They had something more important: a group of guys who consistently did their best and collectively found a way to work together to achieve something more as a team then they could have as individuals.

A good example for all of us to follow.

Track is an interesting sport. Most of the events, except for the relays, are judged on individual performances. Yet, at the end, it’s the collective scores of these individuals that decide which team has done the best.

All season Adam has been running the 3200 m. run. His times have improved and he’s set some pretty aggressive goals for himself. Therein lies the challenge. For the True Team meet, the one that decides which team gets to go to the state tournament, the number of entries is limited. In order to get the best team score, the coach must choose the individuals that can run the fastest, even if it means some of these guys are running multiple races like the 800 and 3200, which they don’t often do during the season.  

Despite Adam’s improvement, he’s not one of the fastest 2 guys on the team. In his heart he knows it’s best for the team if the other 2 guys to run, but he’s still crushed by the fact he couldn’t run fast enough.

As we discussed this the other night, my own heart was breaking. Adam is unselfish and he wants the team to do well. Yet you could see the disappointment in his face as he realized he wasn’t going to be the one to run that race to help the team. He had given such a great effort, yet in his mind he fell short.  As I repeatedly told him how proud I was of him, I also reminded Adam that he’s an 8th grader and that the other two guys were a Jr. and Sr. He’s done quite well and his time will come.

I know that Adam will use this as a learning experience and it will motivate him to run even better. Perhaps one day he’ll be on the other side of the fence and as a Jr. or Sr. he’ll be looking into the eyes of an 8th grader and remembering that he was once in that spot.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it”

          John Wooden

Last Thursday the boys had their final cross country meet, which was Sectionals at Blue Earth. Only one USC runner, a member of the Girl’s team, will be advancing to State. All our runners did well, but the Waseca and Fairmont teams are pretty tough competition.

Brett and Adam did well this year, both showing great improvement in their running times and meet experience. Running, like most sports, is exhausting both mentally and physically. You can see on both of them that while physically they are in good shape, mentally they’re ready for a break.

Saturday night the boy’s team was over at our house for an end of the season party. What continually impresses me about the cross country team is how well all the age groups interact. I participated in sports in high school and I’ve seen how rivalry can develop between grades but in the case of our team, everyone, not matter what grade, seems to genuinely support each other.

So we move on to another season. Brett will be doing some winter running to stay in shape for spring track. Adam will be playing basketball. In a couple of weeks I’ll be coaching Beth’s basketball team. The fields are turning black and the weather is cooling off. Snow can’t be far behind. The end of one season leads to the start of another.