2023 Cross Country

Manuals provide the most up to date policies, rules, and regulations for Iowa High School Athletic Association sports in the regular season and postseason. Member school athletic directors and head coaches seeking more information or clarifications on the contents of this manual should contact the IHSAA sport administrator for this sport: Andy Umthun, [email protected]. All other inquiries should be directed through athletic directors or coaches at member schools or host schools. 

For more information on concussions or sport safety, please visit the Health & Safety resource page. 

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School enrollment numbers from each year inform the following school year’s classifications for IHSAA sanctioned sports. Enrollment numbers are provided by the Basic Educational Data Survey (BEDS) from the Iowa Department of Education. There will be four classes in cross country and one wheelchair division.

Member schools whose boys and girls teams are placed in different classes due to cooperative agreement decisions made by other member schools, shall remain in the same class. The member school will be placed in the lower of the two split classifications. Member schools placed in different classes, based on the member school’s decision to have different cooperative programs for each gender or cooperative programs with different schools, will remain in different classifications and be assigned to state qualifying events as classified. Member
schools will not be allowed the choice to participate in a higher classification. No new cross country cooperative programs will be accepted, nor will any existing cross country cooperative programs be allowed to dissolve after 5:00 pm on Friday, August 11,2023.

4A: Largest 48 schools

3A: Next largest 64 schools.

2A: Next largest 72 schools.

1A: Remainder of schools.

Rules Information

Rule 8, Section 2 of the National Federation of Track and Field and Cross Country

Rule 8, Section 2 of the National Federation Track and Field and Cross Country Rules will be used for scoring. “All competitors who finish the race shall be ranked and tallied in accordance with the table below. The team score shall then be determined by totaling the points scored by the first five finishers of each The team which scores the fewest number of points is the winner.”

PLACE:     1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th

POINTS:     1       2      3      4      5      6      7     8    etc.

Rule 8, Section 2, Article 3 will be used for team scoring. Upon the recommendation of the Cross Country Advisory Committee, the Board of Control has adopted a scoring system method that will disregard the runners if a team has fewer than five participants. There will be a re-ranking of the runners for team scoring.



Ties shall be broken according to National Federation Rule 8, Section 2, Articles, 4 & 5. “Ties in team scoring shall be resolved by comparing the sixth-place finishers from the tying teams. The team with the best sixth-place finisher shall prevail. If one team does not have a sixth-place finisher, the team with the sixth-place finisher shall prevail. If only five competitors of tying teams finish, the tie shall be resolved by totaling the scores of the first four finishers.”



The number of participants is defined in Rule 8, Section 5. In order for a school to qualify for a team championship, five runners must finish. If a school does not enter five individuals, they cannot compete for the team championship. They may enter less than five competitors and those individuals may run and compete for individual placing.



Coaches are responsible for seeing that their competitors are wearing the proper uniform. The athlete should always wear the uniform of his school. Contestants will be permitted to wear hats and gloves only if weather conditions necessitate such items.  A legal uniform is well defined in Rule 4, Section 3, Articles 1 and 2 of the National Federation Rules.

Starting in 2023 for both Cross Country and Track and Field, uniform adaptations to 4-3-1b7 and 4-3-2a have been eliminated by both the IGHSAU and IHSAA. From now on both organizations will follow Rule 4-3 as written in the NFHS Rules book.

GPS watches are legal.

The penalty states: “For the wearing of illegal equipment, when a violation is observed and noted by a meet official, the competitor shall be required to make the uniform legal before becoming eligible for further competition, and shall be issued a warning that a subsequent violation shall result in a disqualification from the event. The referee shall be notified of the violation by the observing meet official, and the referee shall then notify or cause to be notified the head coach of the offending school of the competitor’s violation and warning.



Jewelry may be worn by competitors.


Game Protests Not Upheld

The Board of Control will not uphold any protest by a member school arising from any interscholastic contest involving the question of rules interpretation by any of the contest officials.

Schedule Information

2023 Regulations Pertaining to Cross Country Meets and Practices

Cross country practice begins August 7, 2023.

Cross country competition begins August 21, 2023.

Schools may participate in one scrimmage with up to four teams participating in the event.

Each school will be allowed to compete in 10 meets, excluding state qualifying and state competition.

Each individual will be allowed to compete in 10 meets, excluding state qualifying and state competition.

Varsity runners must run 5000 meters (3 miles, 188 yards, 2 inches) in all competitions. Exception: In cases of inclement weather, meet managers may shorten the race distance to a minimum of two miles in the interest of the health and safety of Meet managers may shorten the race distance for wheelchair competitors.

Prior to the fifth Monday of the competition season (September 18), meet managers have the option of running a 4000 meter course for competitors below the varsity level as long as all varsity and sub-varsity races run to a common finish Beginning the fifth Monday of the competition season (September 18), all competitors must run 5000 meters. (See exception in Item 5).

The host school will determine the starting time for regular season meets.

All cross country meets shall be started by a registered track & field official.

Violation by any school of the above regulations could result in that school not being allowed to participate in state qualifying competition.

2023 State Qualifying Meet Information

State Qualifying Meet

State qualifying meets in both class 3A and 4A will be held on Wednesday, October 18, while the class 1A and 2A state qualifying meets will be held on Thursday, October 19. State qualifying meets will start at 4:00 pm for a single class meet and 3:00 pm for a two class meet. In class 2A, 3A and 4A, there will be five state qualifying meets sites, while there will be eight state qualifying meet sites in class 1A. Competitors will run 5000 meters at the state qualifying meet. Schools wanting to practice on the state qualifying course need to contact the meet manager to see if the venue’s management will allow competitors to practice on the course. State qualifying meet cross country information will be posted on the IHSAA website the week of October 9.


State Qualifying Meet Entries

Each school is permitted a maximum of seven entrants. All competitors will be counted as they finish the race. In order to qualify on a team basis, five runners must finish. A school may enter fewer than five competitors in the state qualifying meet; however, those athletes will not compete for the team championship and will only compete for individual places.

State Meet Qualifiers

From each of the class 2A, 3A and 4A state qualifying meets, the first three teams, plus the first 15 individual place winners will qualify for the state meet. The first two teams, plus the first 10 individual place winners will qualifying for the state meet from each of the class 1A state qualifying meets. Qualifying teams may substitute and run a different lineup at the state meet.

NEW for 2023: Minimum of 5 individual state qualifiers advance from each SQM site if current 15 in 2A-4A (10 in 1A) are taken by team state qualifiers.


State Qualifying Meet Awards

Athletes on a top three team in class 2A, 3A and 4A and athletes on a top two team in class 1A will receive a medal for their team’s accomplishments. In addition, the first 15 finishers in class 2A, 3A and 4A and the first 10 finishers in class 1A will receive a medal for their individual performance.  Each team qualifying for the state meet will also receive a banner.


State Qualifying Cross Country Meet Expense Allowance

There is no team expense allowance for state qualifying cross country.

State Meet Information

State Meet Information

The 2023 state championship meet will be held at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge on October 27-28. The course is located north of Fort Dodge on Highway P59, approximately two miles north of the Fort Dodge airport and Harlan Rogers Park. Additional state meet information will be sent to schools later in the season.

Friday, October 27  Time Saturday, October 28 Time
Class 4A Girls 10:30 am Class 2A Girls 10:30 am
Class 4A Boys 11:15 am Class 2A Boys 11:15 am
Class 4A Awards Noon Class 2A Awards Noon
Class 1A Girls 2:00 pm Class 3A Girls 2:00 pm
Class 1A Boys 2:45 pm Class 3A Boys 2:45 pm
Class 1A Awards 3:30 pm Class 3A Awards 3:30 pm

Please note the wheelchair division will be scheduled after we are notified of any participants.

State Meet Site Closed For Practices

Only schools that use the state meet course for their practice and meets during the season may practice on the course. The course is closed to all other schools for practice at any time. Contestants or team representatives appearing on Friday to walk or run the course will face individual and/or team disqualification from participation in the state meet.



All competitors will be assigned numbers for the state meet. Numbers shall be worn on the front of the uniform. All substitutions must be reported to the clubhouse prior to the start of a race.


Bib Transponders

All competitors will have a transponder chip included in their number. The official order of finish for the race will be that recorded by the transponder. A Lynx system will be used to verify the order of finish in all cases in which the timing system indicates a one-tenth second or less differential. If the finish order determined by transponder chip is reversed through the use of the video system, the times shall also change.


State Meet Awards

The winning, runner up and third place teams will receive trophies. The champion and runner up will receive banners. Medals will be furnished for the first three teams in each class plus medals for the first 15 individual place winners.


State Meet Expense Allowance

A prerequisite for receiving any expense allowance from the IHSAA is that your school must travel to another town for the meet participation. For state cross country participation, the IHSAA will reimburse each school with a qualified team at the rate of $1.25 per mile one way, one car from its school to the site of the state meet. Schools with individual qualifiers will be reimbursed at $.44 per mile one way, one car. Each school’s travel allowance check will be mailed from the IHSAA Office after the meet. No expense card is necessary.

Weather Information

Lightning Safety

The safety of the players and spectators is always more important than the game! Communication between game management, officials & coaches is essential for the safety of everyone. Lightning only takes an instant to strike. You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from rainfall. Don’t wait until the last minute to seek shelter. If thunder is heard, or cloud-to-ground lightning is seen, immediately suspend the event and instruct everyone to take shelter in a safe structure.

Have a lightning safety plan in place. Know where teams and spectators will go for safety and know how much time it will take them to get to safety. A “safe structure” is a completely enclosed building that is normally occupied or frequently used by people. The building should have plumbing and electrical wiring to help ground it from lightning. If there is no such structure available, an enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and sides is a reasonable second choice. When a contest is suspended due to lightning, wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before leaving safe shelter and resuming activity. Lightning detectors are a great tool to draw one’s attention to the fact that lightning is in the vicinity. Remember, even with lightning detectors, the weather should be monitored closely for lightning or thunder.


Hazardous Weather Guidelines

The primary concern when signs of hazardous weather are present is the safety of participants and spectators. Have a safety plan for any type of hazardous weather that may occur. Practice and follow the plan. Know where people will go for safety and know how much time it will take for them to get there. Have specific guidelines for suspending the event so everyone has time to reach a place of safety before the threat becomes significant.