Cross country dates back to the turn of the 20th century as an Olympic Sport when it was contested as a team and individual event at the 1904, 1912, 1920 and 1924 Summer Games. The Olympic spirit is still alive in the sport today as thousands of youth athletes compete throughout the fall in USATF's Junior Olympic Cross Country program.
The Junior Olympic Cross Country program culminates each December when more than 3,000 youth cross country runners hit the course to compete in the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. Entry for the national championship is based on athlete performances at preliminary, Association, and Regional levels.
Our program is designed to introduce kids to distance running by providing an experience that is fun, competitive, social, and informative about the sport.
Cross country is a fall/winter sport, with our youth practices starting each year in August (typically a week after Fulton County schools open).
Parents/older siblings are free to help out in any way you wish at the practices and the meets. Check out our volunteer opportunities for more details.
How are cross country meets scored?
In USATF competition, a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 8 athletes (in each age division / gender) comprise a team. In middle school and high school, the maximum is 7 athletes.
For USATF Junior Olympic meets we have to form multiple teams in each age division / gender if we have more than 8 athletes. This is known as Team A, B, C, etc.
Typically for development and middle school meets we don't declare the team in advance. Instead, the first 5 athletes are the scoring athletes and the next 2 or 3 (depending the meet type) form the team for award medal purposes.
The top 5 finishers in each race for a club are the "scoring athletes", their points comprise the team score.
The place that a runner gets in a race is the same number of points he/she scores for their team.
The lower the team score, the better.
The 5 individual scores are added together for the team score.
For example, if the top 5 runners come in 1st, 4th, 6th, 13th, and 20th, then our team score for that race would be 44 (1+4+6+13+20).
If a team sweeps coming in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, the score would be 15 (1+2+3+4+5) ... a perfect score; this rarely happens.
The additional athletes on the team - if any, up to the maximum of 7 or 8 athletes - are also awarded a score, but their score is not included in the team score. Instead, their score, "displaces" (or "uses" / "consumes") points that another team could get. Because a low score is better, these non-team scoring finishers forces other teams behind them to score higher.
A runner does not score any points under these situations:
If there are less than 5 athletes from the same club in the race, hence they do not score as a team
If the runner finishes after the last member of the team from the same club in the race. As stated above, a maximum of 8 athletes (in each age division / gender) comprise a team. In middle school and high school, the maximum is 7 athletes.
If there is a tie between teams, per USATF Rule 7.9(b) Ties between two or more teams shall be resolved in favor of the team whose last scoring member (5th) finishes nearer to first place.
USATF Youth Age Group Divisions
The athlete will participate in the age group determined by the athlete’s age as of December 31 of the current year. See the USATF web site for the youth age group divisions.
USATF Junior Olympic Cross Country Competition
See our USATF Junior Olympics page for more details.
USATF Rule 305.3 - Cross country qualifying procedures
See this document for details.