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Cross Country rules keep up with the times

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IT’S ABOUT TIME: Girls’ cross country team takes advantage of new rule allowing watches.

IT’S ABOUT TIME: Girls’ cross country team takes advantage of new rule allowing watches.














Before the 2014 cross country season began, a new rule was implemented by the IHSA to let runners use digital watches to keep pace at meets. Watches were allowed years ago but were banned and remained illegal until before this 2014 fall athletic season.

The races have become more tactical instead of a runner racing against the individuals around them. “I’m not a fan of the new rule change because it takes away from some of the competitive nature of the sport,” senior cross country runner Jack Diamond said.

Diamond does not use a watch at meets but uses one at every practice, as recommend by the coaches. “Coach Sipple also would rather us not wear one during races because he wants us to forget about times and run as fast as you can,” Diamond said.

A majority of the members of the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams utilize the watches at practices but not races. At races there is a digital clock at every mile marker and the start and finish line.

“Having a watch and being a slave to the time can cause you issues during a competition because you are not racing your competition but only racing the clock,” boys’ cross country coach John Sipple said.

The most popular watch used by the cross country runners is the Nike Sport Watch which costs around 170 dollars. The Nike watch tracks run history, personal records, and has a GPS function as well as the basic time functions.

“The watches nowadays have a variety of different functions and capabilities, everything from GPS mapping, to the basic stop-watch,” Sipple said.

Girls cross country coach Tim McDonald also discourages the use of watches at meets because of each course being different. “A mile on the St. Charles’ course is different than a mile on Oak Park’s course, but a track is the same no matter where it is,” McDonald said.

An outdoor track is built to certain regulations while cross country courses vary in slope, terrain, and surface. “400 meters is 400 meters which makes pace become more important in track,” McDonald said.

During practice runners have nothing to compete against or check times with except for the watches. “I would encourage our guys to run without a watch during a race.  However, they are critical to have for practice,” Sipple said.

Jake Stevenson | Sports Editor
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