Middle school runners in 8th grade are encouraged to train and race with the East Coweta High School Cross Country team. There are a few differences in how 8th graders are allowed to compete:
- Can participate in meets but cannot run on the Varsity team.
- JV Team or open races only.
- Relaxed practice requirements based on transportation
Running as an 8th grader does not impact the eligibility of a runner after entering High School, so there is no drawback to starting early. Most runners see the biggest gains between their first and second years, so 8th grade runners have an advantage over other runners their age by starting earlier. Some meets also have a race for Middle Schoolers only, which allows them to compete against runners that are their same age.
Logistically, training with the team as an 8th grader is just a matter of getting to-and-from practices. In Season practices are always held at ECHS. There are buses that run between the middle schools and ECHS daily, so any 8th grader that trains in the morning can hop the bus that will take them to their middle school. For afternoon practices, the 8th grader will find the bus that goes to the high school after middle school is out. Parents and athletes can find these bus numbers by talking to bus personnel at Meet the Teacher at each of the feeder middle schools (Arnall, Lee, and East Coweta Middle) in August, or by calling Coweta County Schools Transportation Department. There are generally multiple students from each middle school riding the bus to and from ECHS each day.
Starting as an eighth grader has the added benefit of meeting future classmates from other middle schools, learning your way around parts of a large high school, and meeting and befriending upperclassman, who can often be found mentoring and tutoring their younger teammates!