The runners will no longer have to take to the streets every day for practices.
As soon as 2017, Crothersville’s High School cross-country team is also planning on hosting invitationals for the first time in 20-plus years.
Over the past two weeks, the town has constructed a course in the woods on the west side of town next to the baseball field.
Chris Mains, water and street supervisor for the town, came up with the idea with his fellow coworkers.
“It all started by wanting a picnic area for the public,” Mains said. “It was all overgrown. We used to dump excess dirt from jobs in town and that kind of thing. We had the idea to come out and clear it off.
“Then, I thought this would be a great place to have cross-country meets and a walking path. This area was just never utilized. Within two days, the paths were cut with the bobcat.”
With the current layout, a junior high meet can complete the course in one loop while a varsity 5K would take two laps.
The Tigers’ varsity unit used to host dual meets and the Southern Athletic Conference competition when they rotation reached them, but hasn’t in years due to renovations on the old course.
Long-time Crothersville high school and junior high coach Carl Bowman went out with Mains on an ATV to check out the freshly-constructed course.
Bowman said he was on board from the first look.
After clearing debris in the forest, laying down a base layer of mulch and spray-painting arrows to mark the route, members of the Tigers’ high school and junior high programs ran the course for the first time this past week.
“I brought all the groups out Thursday (Sept. 15),” Bowman said. “Not one of them had a complaint; they loved it. They’re tired of pounding on the pavement and dodging cars. I’ve always hated having the junior high kids on the roads. I try to keep them in town on the sidewalks.”
Bowman said that they’re now looking at starting a summer and Elementary School cross-country program on top of the middle and school running.
While the junior high team has hosted meets in recent times, they haven’t had a true course for an event.
“What we’re thinking about is starting off early next year with a junior high race,” Bowman said. “We will see what people think about it, and halfway through the season have some varsity teams out. If everything looks OK with that, possibly next year we can have a few invitationals.”
With home meets, the program will better afford road invitationals.
“When I was in school, we had dual meets,” Mains said. “Now, everything is invitationals. It costs a bunch of money being a small school. This will help bring some of that money back for the program to help break even.”
The new course offers different opportunities for the runners.
“We have never had (a course) that had any hills on it,” Bowman said. “Back when Chris (Mains) was a junior in 1985, we had a course at the school that went through some flat fields. It wasn’t a whole lot, but we used that and the park over by the school grounds. We just quit using it because a storage barn was built by the track and we had no way to get past it.”
The old course wasn’t ideal on another level, as it forced runners to take to the pavement for a good chunk of the race.
“It got to the point where we were starting on asphalt in the school parking lot,” Bowman said. “We ran maybe a mile then were back on side streets and sidewalks. It wasn’t beneficial to anyone.”
Bowman, who also coaches the track and field team, said he plans on having sprinters work on the hills. Runners with knee issues will also take to the softer surface.
While Crothersville senior Breanna Barger wishes she could have spent more time on the course, she looks forward to it paying off for the program in the future.
“I love it, I just wish I could run on it next year,” Barger said with a smile. “I think it shows more appreciation (for the program). It’s a crazy thing that we’re going to have a course. It gives the runners something to look forward to each season.”