Boys Cross Country

Jayson Jackson

Head Coach |

David Carmack

Assistant Coach

Sommers Moyer

Assistant Coach

The student­ athletes of the Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy Cross Country Team compete in local, PIAA district, statewide and regional competitions. Cross Country is an ideal sport for boys who like to compete in distance running events, as well as those seeking to maintain or improve their speed and fitness levels for upcoming sporting seasons.

The Cross Country season runs from mid­August to mid-­November.  Boys interested in joining the SJCA XC team are encouraged to contact Coach Jackson at   SJCA student­run “off season” workouts and fun runs take place throughout the summer months. A cooperative agreement allows students attending Grace Prep Christian High School to train with and compete on the SJCA Cross Country Team.

The Cross Country program receives financial support from the SJCA general budget and SJCA Cross Country/Track and Field Booster Club.  The main fundraiser for the SJCA Cross Country/Track and Field Booster Club is the Boalsburg Turkey Trot (5K Run/Walk), which takes place on Thanksgiving Day.


Cross Country 101

By Jayson Jackson, Head Coach, SJCA Cross Country and Track/Field Teams

Each year, thousands of middle school and high school students compete as individuals and teams in the sport of cross country.  Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy has both girls and a boys cross country teams. SJCA also supports middle school students attending Our Lady of Victory Catholic School, who seek to compete in cross country competitions at the middle school level.

How It Works

For Varsity and Junior Varsity (JV) competitions, the distance of a typical high school cross country race is 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). Middle school races are generally shorter, about 2 miles.

Cross country courses may include areas of dirt, grass, gravel, stream beds, and hills.  Each cross country course presents unique challenges to the competing athletes.  Consequently athletes are encouraged to evaluate their performances on the same course, in contrast to between courses.  Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s home course is at Oak Hall Regional Park.

Varsity Team Competitions

While individual performance is important, team competition is also critical to the sport of cross-country. PIAA high school varsity teams are made up of seven runners. Truly, the ideal is to have 10 or 12, so there is healthy competitive balance for making the Varsity team.

In a given Varsity race, the  team’s score is calculated by adding up the places in which team members finish – that is, 1 point is awarded for a first-place finisher, 2 points for second, and so on. The place of a team’s top 5 of the 7 runners are counted toward a team’s score. The team with the lowest score wins. 15 points is a perfect score, with the team taking the first five places in the race.

Runners #6 and #7 play an important role as they can displace scoring runners from other teams. In the event of a tie, Runner #6 also serves as the tiebreaker: the team with the first finishing 6th runner is the winner.

Junior Varsity Competitions

JV competitions generally do not have a team component.  These races are run to give developing athletes experience with competition.  Awards or accolades are often given to the top finishers of these races.

Middle School Competitions

Middle School competitions may or may not include a team component.  Like the JV races, the purpose of these events is to give developing athletes experience with competition.  Awards or accolades are often given to the top finishers of these races.

Classifications and Rankings

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) serves as the regulating body in the state of PA for middle school, junior high school, intermediate school, and senior high school level sports. Teams are classified for PIAA competition based on the athletes’ school’s enrollment. The PIAA web page lists with current classifications.  Every two years, PIAA officials evaluate school enrollment numbers and adjust the teams in each class as needed.

Based on the SJCA enrollment numbers, the SJCA Boys Varsity and Girls Varsity teams both race in Class A for the district and state championships.

PennTrackXC is an online resource of information regarding PA high school cross country and track and field teams, as well as individual athletes.  PennTrack ranks school teams and individuals, based on weekly performances during a given season.

Suggestions for Parents and Fans

Parents and other fans are encouraged to arrive at the competition at least 30 minutes before the onset of a given race.  This enables parents, family, and friends to become familiar with areas which are best for watching the event.  In some instances, the parking lot is a considerable distance from the actual race course.

Spectators are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes to the meet so they can move around the course in order to view the athletes at different areas. Generally courses loop across the same area more than once, but if one wants to catch a runner at a variety of spots on the course, he or she will have to walk briskly or jog to do it.

Reading Assignment

The following are links to great articles for the parents.  They give important tips on how to appropriately support and encourage an athlete and warnings about pitfalls that parents of developing athletes often fall into.  Reading and acting in light of the points made in these articles will strengthen a parents’ connection to his or her athlete, helping the athlete to perform at his or her very best.