The Fifth Man: Team Dynamics in Cross Country

By Carter Lemons, Class of 2015

Cross country is considered by many to be an individual’s sport. However, it is scored in┬ásuch a way that the top five runners from each team receive a number of points equivalent to their position in the race. The winner gets one point, the second place runner receives two points, and so on. Like golf, the team with the fewest points wins. This unique system of scoring makes cross country arguably the most team oriented sport in the world. With other sports, a team with one or two superstars can win championships. Take, for example, Auburn’s 2010 football team. Without Cam Newton, there would have been no championship. The fifth man is what makes cross country different. A team with the four fastest runners in the nation may never win a meet if its fifth man does not perform. If the top four runners do not build up, challenge, and encourage that fifth runner, the cross country team as a whole will fail every time.

One Comment

  • Karen Bloss says:

    Very interesting article. I never realized how it was scored even though I have known several people who ran cross country.

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