Although there isn’t a lack of activities for Craig Middle School students to participate in, assistant principal and athletic director Jill Hafey was hoping for one more.
Hafey had been trying to bring a cross country team to the middle school after a three-year hiatus, but travel and budget concerns won’t allow that to happen, she said.
“It was here previously,” she said. “My understanding was that the team would travel for three hours, then run for 20 or 30 minutes and drive three hours back.
“That started taking a toll.”
The team was put on the backburner, Hafey said, until she tried to bring it back for this fall.
“We ran into the same issues,” she said. “It’s not out forever — it’s just not feasible this year.”
There are other opportunities for students who want to run for sport, Hafey said.
“We offer some cross country running in the afternoon in the extended studies class,” she said. “We also encourage kids to go out for track in the spring.”
CMS, which typically plays teams like Steamboat Springs, Meeker, West Grand and Rangely, would be the only school in the area with a cross country team.
At a June Moffat County School Board meeting, it was estimated that reinstating the CMS cross country team would cost approximately $2,000.
Hafey said other school districts have had to cut costs as well, and other cross country programs might have been eliminated.
“There are no teams within a reasonable distance to compete against,” Hafey said. “There are budget cuts everywhere in other districts, and it may not have been the top sport to maintain.”
The Moffat County High School team has had success, even without a development program like CMS would have been.
In 2009, the boys team ran to a regional championship, while the girls team was one point away from the regional crown.
But, even with that success, MCHS head coach Todd Trapp said he has seen the number of athletes dwindle since the cross country program was last offered at CMS.
“Our numbers were higher,” he said. “We had more incoming freshmen on the team.
“Last year, we had a good group of freshmen girls and freshmen guys. But, it’s like I am recruiting freshmen to join the team as sophomores.”
Having athletes participate in cross country at an early age is essential for keeping them in the program, Trapp said.
“It would definitely help as a feeder program for the high school,” Trapp said. “We want to get kids interested in cross country at a young age.
“That would help with our numbers at the high school level.”
Hafey said adding programs such as cross country is a goal of the school district.
“We like to offer the kids as much as possible, and running is something they could carry on forever,” she said. “We can shoot for it again next year, although I don’t think the circumstances will change.”
However, Hafey would like to see a cross country team at Craig Middle School.
“I’m bummed we couldn’t get it going again,” she said. “That doesn’t mean it’s crossed off forever.”