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To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the Sedona Red Rock High School cross-country team’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Jeff Bear Mug CMYKThrough the timely support of John Bradshaw and the Save Our School Sports group’s fundraiser, the high school’s harriers [no one calls them that anymore], along with the freshmen girl’s volleyball team will live to compete another day.

But the question remains: Why was the cross-country team on the school district’s chopping block to begin with?

Fourteen varsity sports teams compete for Sedona Red Rock High School in three seasons, so why was cross-country considered to be the most expendable?

The answer is simple of course — the cross-country team doesn’t generate any money.

Cross-country meets are free to attend, but if that were the only criteria a number of other school sports that are also free to attend would have been on the district’s chopping block as well.

The cross-country team, though, lacks one essential thing that all the other varsity sports at the high school have: a home field or court or course.

Historically, cross-country teams have always run on local golf courses, of which there are four in the Sedona area. The problem with that is it shuts down the golf courses to golfers for a couple of hours in the middle of the afternoon, and it takes an act of God to have that happen in Sedona.

We do have a lot of great running trails around Sedona, but most are too narrow and rocky for a cross-country race, and, too, they are mostly on U.S. Forest Service lands which would require special use permits.

Flagstaff has Buffalo Park, a large, city-owned, naturalized park with miles of running trails in every direction. Is something like that possible in the Sedona area?

It seems like Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent David Lykins was sincere when he said, “We’ve got some real runners, some top performers. I don’t want to see them have to go somewhere else.” But still, I can’t help but be sceptical about the school district’s priorities.

Maybe I’m biased. OK, I am definitely biased. Cross-country was my best sport in high school, but its seems to me that anything that gets kids running is worth holding on to.

Obesity is at an all-time high in this country — especially among our youth — so I’m thinking that a group of young people who willingly run up to 40 miles every week should be held up as a shining example of how to live a healthy lifestyle; not banished to competing at a different school, or worse: considered expendable.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Aug. 23 issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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  • Dave Freeman

    Cross country teams require almost no equipment. Jersey's and shorts. The same ones the use for track. That's it. It's a cheap sport for a school to fund, and cutting it should save almost nothing.

    As for finding an appropriate course, we used to race multiple laps around and through our schools campus. Boring maybe...but easy enough to do. But I'm betting that something more suitable could be found around Sedona, also at no cost and wihout having to impose upon a local golf course.

    Additionally, as a non contact sport, injuries are few and far between. You don't need to have an ambulance on call. Nor do you need to pay trained refs to monitor each meet. Local volunteers work just fine.

    So there really is/was no valid reason for even considering to ax this program.

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