Just some quick info and numbers for the few who might be interested.
I was curious how many 7th and 8th-grade girls actually compete at the varsity level in cross country in NY, so I checked the NYSPHSAA sectional championship for 2016 ... 2990 girls ran ... 124 were 8th-graders ... 20 were 7th-graders ... 95.2% (9th-12th), 4.8% (7th-8th).
Confirms what most NY coaches already knew ... The vast majority of junior high runners in NY (7th and 8th-grade) do not compete at the varsity level ... Most compete on junior high teams that have different coaches and different practices than the varsity ... Some leagues, especially leagues with larger teams, actually prohibit junior high and varsity teams from practicing together.
The Fayetteville-Manlius girls had only 20 girls on their varsity squad this season ... None of those 20 were 7th or 8th-graders ... I looked, but found no occurrence of any 7th or 8th-grader being part of the varsity this season.
The Fayetteville-Manlius junior high girls' team came to the Tully Invitational this fall ... They have only 19 girls ... Bill Aris is not the coach of the junior high team (I did not see him at our invitational, and Tully is only 20 miles from FM) ... They do not practice with the varsity.
One noticeable difference between the results of the FM varsity and junior high teams ... the FM varsity hammered everybody from dual meets through NXN Nationals ... the FM junior high did not.
Over the years, the only junior high girls I have seen on the FM varsity are those girls capable of running at that level ... you see their names in the results ... there is no large pool of junior high girls being secretly coached by Bill Aris behind the scenes.
What Fayetteville-Manlius has accomplished over the years with the number of girls in their program borders on the incredible ... But we in NY are now use to it.
Enrollment numbers put Fayetteville-Manlius at 354 students per class in the high school (both boys & girls) ... In the California Southern Section, that would put Fayetteville-Manlius in Division 4 ... IF including FM's middle school in sports enrollment (7th and 8th-grade), Fayetteville-Manlius would be a small in Division 2 team in California (could not compete against Great Oak at States).
Concerning Junior High Participation at the Varsity Level ... Junior high kids have been allowed to compete varsity in New York State since the 1970s ... Starting in 2011 and continuing for three years, NYSED (the New York State Education Department) reviewed and evaluated 7th and 8th-grader participation against older students ... Rumors had some officials in NYSED as opposed to any 7th and 8th-grader participation at the varsity level ... In 2015, NYSED concluded:
"... the shared belief of the NYSAAA, the NYSPHSAA, medical directors, directors of physical education/athletics, and the NYSED that physical education and interscholastic athletic competition are important to the development of the whole child, and that students benefit when they can participate in such activities at a pace that is consistent with their physical and emotional maturity, size, fitness level, and athletic skill."
Seems that some opposed to any 7th and 8th-grader participation at the varsity level were convinced by its success in NY ... I have personally witnessed its successes ... It may not be perfect in a few instances, but it is working just fine overall ... I question why more States are not doing it.
One California coach told me, "You can NOT have 7th and 8th-graders running varsity in California. It would be a logistical nightmare for me and huge advantage for other schools" .... BINGO ... You might need some new rules .. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes heard from an old-time coach years ago ... "Rules made by adults to protect the jealously of other adults" ... Somebody gets an advantage and somebody loses.
I realize that 7th and 8th-grade participation is an advantage at NXN for New York, Minnesota and the other States sensible enough to allow it ... But as yet, it has not determined any winning outcome ... Doug Soles is correct in noting that the North Rockland girls would not have gotten to NXN in 2015 without their 8th-graders ... But their varsity team certainly deserved to be at NXN based on their ability.
I do not want States that forbid 7th and 8th-grade participation to enforce their restrictive rules on the "progressive" States at NXN ... California has decided to restrict 7th and 8th-grade participation within their States, and that's their problem ... NXN has been consistent thus far ... Let's hope they maintain it.