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Written by Rod O’Donnell on 15 September 2014.

This month’s column is a tribute to our wonderful fall sport.

Thumbs up:

To nearly 500,000 high school athletes in the United States who will participate in cross-country this fall.

To the thousands of runners who attended summer running camps, hoping to learn something new that would help them improve and be the best that they can be in their sport.

To dozens of meet directors, like Dave Pavlansky and Denise Gorski, the directors of the Boardman Invitational, who work tirelessly to hold meets that provide great experiences for participants and spectators alike.

To meet sponsors, such as Nike and Merrill Lynch, who provide vital support to the Boardman Invitational and camps, such as the Nike/Second Sole Distance Camp, at Elkhorn Valley, located near Carrollton, Ohio.

To the OHSAA for conducting one of the best state championships in the country.

To Terry Oertman, who plays a critical role in making sure that the entire state meet is a huge success.

To the OATCCC and their tremendous support of cross-country, as exemplified by the sponsorship of the post-season Mid-East Meet of Champions, held annually at Indian Riffle Park, in Kettering.

To hundreds of men and women who spend countless hours coaching teams, despite low pay and sometimes little recognition for the tremendous effort and passion that they give each day to their young athletes.   In today’s tumultuous society, they provide an “island in the storm,” when it comes to teaching discipline, work ethic, being good role models, and leadership.

To the sport itself,  for providing the opportunity to develop a passion that can lead participants to be involved in running for the rest of their lives.   Not only do many runners continue to maintain fitness, but they also develop the bonds and friendships that will last forever. Our wonderful sport was once described as, “too good for this world.” When you think about it, that might be a very good description.

Good luck to all athletes who take part this fall. You are a very special group of young people.

Yours in track,

Rod O’Donnell

Read more of Rod O’Donnell’s Keeping Track articles:

Track Faces Challenges that could have adverse effects thus causing severe damage -

Marketing Track & Field -

Student Athlete’s Questions -

The Need to Speak Up -

A new book by John McDonnell -

KEEPING TRACK - From September-October 2013 print RUNOHIO -

Random Thoughts -

Another Division I institution has dropped its men’s track program -

 Ohio University Athletic Department's Worst Decision -

Life Lessons from Cross Country -

Ten Pledges for Cross Country Coaches -

London Olympics -

 Improving as a Coach –

You Only Go Around Once -

Dear Jesse Owens –

West Virginia State Cross Country Championship –

SPIRE Institute -

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Why is the OHSAA Treating Cross Country Different than All of the Other Sponsored Sports?

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