My first big meet is the Tri-County meet in '76. I can barely contain myself. Seven teams were there, but they have a little handout with the teams, runners, and history. They list the all-time top ten and their times. You start hearing the stories about the heroes of past and the close races. Everyone is putting on the mint glo (kind of like Ben-Gay) and lacing the shoes up like a half dozen times from nervous anticipation. I don't remember any special instructions from coach. Coach was a young guy who monitored the suspended students at school. He hadn't grown up running, but was athletic. He only coached us one year before I believe he got a real teaching gig somewhere else. I would see him occasionally over the next couple years and he had started running. He was always interested in how I did and that was cool.
If your reading and ran cross you know how it works. You all line up by team across a long white line. Everyone is flying their colors and it is the most people you have seen at a race ever. This may have been my first race ever on a Saturday, so a lot of parents showed up. Some teams (the good ones) had piles of supporters, but I'll bet we only had a handful watching us. The official, dressed in the old school black and white stripes stands out there and gives instructions. It was a pleasant day that October 9th. I was ready to fly. I was going to miss Fred as he was injured that day. We were close all season and he beat me twice over the course of the year.
The beginning was a blast as everyone tore out with the grass flying. One kid fell and and we jumped over him and everyone hooted and hollared. If I wasn't hooked yet I was now. The course was layed out so it seemed like you always had a freaking little hill to contend with. This beat the heck out of me and I remember having a rather poor day. We wound up 7th out of 7 (naturally) with a get this 176 point total! My time would have placed me 11th in the JV race. I ran 18:19, Mark Albers 18:55, Tarso 18:56, Salmen 19:20, and Pickle 20:02 for the 3 mile race. Neshannock went 1 - 2 with times of 15:47 and 15:48 respectively. Surprisingly we were fired up. Everyone had the chance to recount their race. No one likes a beat down, but hey we had completed our first season. How did Union do? Well we must have upset then earlier in the year because they were 6th with 132 points.
We felt next year would be all upside.