MEDORA — Lace up those running shoes. Medora students are joining the Elementary Cross Country League.
Known as EXCL, the running program provides low-stakes cross-country meets for students in grades 1 to 5 across Jackson County.
The league hosts three meets in September with Emerson, Cortland, Seymour-Redding, Margaret R. Brown, Seymour-Jackson, Immanuel Lutheran School, Sandy Creek Christian Academy and St. John’s Sauers, all in Seymour, participating. Brownstown and Lutheran Central in Brownstown and Crothersville also are represented.
Now, Medora elementary students will have a leg in the race.
Carrie Brewer and Jaelyn Ogle, teachers at Medora STEM Academy, will be the volunteer coaches for the Medora EXCL team, and both are excited to get started with the program.
The idea to join the league all started when the two started running together a few days a week right after school.
“A couple of our students saw us and asked if they could join,” Ogle said. “Shortly after, we created a girls running club called Run Like a Girl.”
Ogle said the club met each week and even participated in a few 5Ks together.
“This past fall, we saw pictures of the EXCL meets and thought it would be a great way to expand our running club,” Brewer said.
The two said Brad Cobb, organizer and head coach of EXCL, was incredibly helpful when they reached out to him about joining.
“This league provides students with athletic experiences prior to fifth grade with the skills needed to prepare for middle school athletics, such as stamina, cooperation and commitments,” Ogle said.
The two said while the league is open to all students in first through fifth grades, they are open to also doing grades 1 through 4 since fifth-graders at Medora are able to participate in middle school athletics.
“This league also provides students the opportunity for healthy competition and an opportunity to meet students from around the area,” Brewer said.
The meets will be held each Saturday in the first three weeks of September, the 2nd, 9th and 16th.
Currently, students compete against those of different grades except for first grade, which competes by itself. The races also are separated by boys and girls and distance.
The first grade race consists of a distance of 1K with girls from all represented schools competing against each other. The same will go for boys.
Second-graders race against third-graders with a race distance of 2K, and fourth-graders race against fifth-graders with a distance of 2K. Girls will race first in all age groups.
Brewer and Ogle said once the EXCL season is finished, they plan to resume with the running club once a week.
“Since coaching positions are volunteer, any other staff that are interested would be more than welcome to help out,” Ogle said.
Practice for the Medora EXCL team will be held twice a week after school with students meeting at the gym lobby in August and September until the final meet.
The Medora Goes Pink 5K route will be used for practices, and meets will be held at the Freeman Field Recreational Complex in Seymour.
For Medora students to join, the family would be responsible for transportation to and from practices and meets. Also, a $10 club fee is required at signup to help pay for registration and a T-shirt.
Brewer and Ogle said a small fundraiser could be utilized to help students who cannot pay the $10 fee. The EXCL program also requires that parents sign a permission slip and a health waiver in place of a physical.
As the Medora Hornets prepare to join the competition, Brewer and Ogle hope to see students begin to build healthy habits and see more schoolwide participation in athletics.