Legs are legs and lungs are lungs, so just because an athlete runs for a small school, it doesn’t mean there is a disadvantage the way there might be in a football matchup when one school has 100 players on a team and the other doesn’t have 100 kids in the school.
Cross-country running is very much an individual sport even if team scores are kept. Translated, this means talent can be found at any size school in any town, no matter what class a school competes in.
Still, whenever the representatives of the little guys do something special, it should be appreciated by a wide range of sports fans, sports watchers and sports participants.
Truthfully, because unless you are a rare minority member of the multi-millionaire professional elite, we are almost all underdogs, all little guys.
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What David Rose, Elijah Plasse and Kaylyn Holman pulled off Tuesday at the Scottsburg Invitational was a Crothersville High School highlight film.
The 5-kilometer cross-country race became their personal invitational, as if the remainder of the crowd from Austin, Madison, Charlestown and host Scottsburg showed up just to play the parts of extras in the show.
Rose, who appears to be getting stronger each race, became champion of the boys contest by clocking 17 minutes, 35 seconds, though the senior ran much faster a year ago. He is getting used to finishing at or near the front in all of his races, many of which include 70 or more competitors from multiple schools.
In other words, he is not cowed by the depth of competition.
By comparison, Plasse, who goes into every race knowing he is an underdog to Rose, for starters, was a surprising second.
He may have been 18 seconds in arrears of Rose — no shame in that — but he had to work hard to fend off a runner representing Home School Union, taking second by less than two seconds over the 3.1-mile distance. This was a superb finish for Plasse.
Any time Holman does not finish first in events that feature small schools, it is not automatically an upset, but it is at least a mild surprise. Holman was unpressed in the girls race, her time of 20:22 about a minute and a half faster than second-place Calli Ackerman of Shawe Memorial. Ackerman, like Plasse, had enough difficulty holding onto a challenge for second.
Holman, a junior, is one of those Exhibit A characters indicating you don’t have to be affiliated with a large-school program to run fast. It’s all in the head and the body, the will and the heart, regardless of where you are registered for class.
One difference, however, in events featuring small schools is that some of their teams are so small they don’t have the necessary five runners to post a team score. Holman was joined by Ella Plasse, 24th in 25:53; Kiarra Lakins, 28th in 26:17; and Kennadi Lakins, 33rd in 31:08.
That’s one, two, three, four, not five, so no team score tabulated. This was a common malady in the girls race, where just four schools had full teams, although 11 other schools sent runners.
Rose and Plasse had the company of two other Tigers, Andrew Stainbrook, 68th in 26:55, and Tim Hodge, 76th in 32:28, but again, that’s one, two, three, four, not five, no score on the final list.
There were nine scoring boys teams, and nine other schools had runners in the boys race.
Too bad for the good runners without enough backup.
Running being the most elemental of sports, humans going through those exercise motions in one way or another pretty much since the dawn of time and cross-country being probably the least expensive sport equipment-wise (though swimming is probably down there, too), it’s a shame a few more boys and girls who are members of the student body in those places can’t be convinced to coming out for the team.
At the least, Crothersville’s top runners, Holman, Rose and Plasse, can show them there is honor and even a little bit of glory in working up a good sweat.