Races at Brown County’s Eagle Park a must-see, unique experience

At the final chute, fans glue to either side of the white wooden fences.

As the bodies file-in like cattle to the finish, the fans never stop cheering.

Whether a finisher is from their school, or from across the state, the noise never falters until the final spot completes the course.

It’s deafening — in a good way.

There’s something other-worldly that surrounds postseason cross-country in Nashville.

You feel the uniqueness of each race before you make the turn into Eagle Park.

Driving down State Road 46, you’re greeted by the changing leaves on either side of the two-lane road.

I think that environment stirs up old memories for many in attendance.

You feel like a kid again.

If you arrive early to the course, and beat the traffic that backs up right before race time, you pull into a field-turned-parking lot.

Before you get out of your car, you can see the lines of buses in the gravel parking lot, which is reserved for the schools.

Walking up to the sign-in desk, you view all of the different tents set up on the course’s perimeter.

The pop-up shelters sport different colors, with each team’s name transcribed across the front.

Every mascot’s accounted for: Eagles, Bulldogs, Braves, Owls, Tigers, Cougars, Panthers.

You name a mascot, and the chances are they’re there.

There’s a lingering excitement in the brisk air before the start.

As the clock draws closer to the gun, the anticipation slowly climaxes.

Once the runners get going, it’s pure pandemonium.

Not a bad craziness, though.

They all know it, but you may not: There’s no other fan base like cross-country fans.

Fans will run a couple miles to see their runners in 10-second intervals.

The crowd moves from point to point, with the course’s map engraved in their minds.

With each runner that finishes, a different storyline also comes to fruition.

Maybe it’s the No. 6 runner who pushed the No. 5 ahead a pair of places to help the team advance to next week’s race.

Or it’s the lone runner representing a school, hoping to stay in the mix while repping their school to the fullest.

It could be the senior, who’s finishing their career with a personal record — collapsing with their hands on their head with a smile drawn across their face.

This past weekend, for Jackson County schools, it was Seymour’s boys and girls both making it out of regional.

It was Trinity Lutheran’s AJ Goecker, the school’s lone male runner, advancing.

It was Crothersville freshman Grace Wilson making school history as the first to get out of regional in her first attempt.

It was Brownstown Central’s Kaelyn Johnson keeping the Braves’ season alive.

When the races end, the excitement doesn’t.

Hundreds gather in front of a wooden deck — turned podium — all with the hope they hear their name called.

With each name, and school, called a cheer erupts from a pocket of the crowd.

After congratulations are had, and pictures are taken, everyone files out like they did when they came in.

If fortunate enough, you get to come back the next week.

Saturday’s the last chance to catch a race at Brown County. The semistate will showcase the fastest runners in southern Indiana.

If you’ve never been, make a trip and see what you’ve been missing.