JFK Cross Country

What is middle school cross country anyway?

Cross country is a competitive distance sport. Runners compete on a pre-determined course around two miles in length and run for points.  A good time for one mile is under seven minutes.  This is achieved through hard work, commitment, and focus.  You will not get there on the first attempt, but with consistent training, it will happen.  You may even surprise yourself with an even faster mile time if your work ethic is on point!  Once you beat your toughest competitor (yourself) there is no stopping you!  Tryouts will last four days.  Athletes will have to complete a mile in 8:00 or less to qualify for the team.  Honestly, cross country is for those who love and enjoy distance/endurance running!  If you don't like running long distances, this is not the sport for you so please seek another activity. Please be honest with yourself if you are considering cross country but you do not like to run!  It will not suit you well and you will not enjoy it!  Announcements will be made over the PA at JFK for our informational meeting and start date.  ALL INFORMATION  ICONS on FINALFORMS need to be GREEN in order to participate in tryouts! Our participation fee will be due once your student-athlete makes the team.   THERE MUST BE AN UP-TO-DATE PHYSICAL ON FILE WITH OUR NURSES PRIOR TO TRYOUTS. NO PHYSICAL, NO TRYOUT! REGISTRATION IS ON FINAL FORMS. MEDICAL ISSUES NEED TO BE LISTED.  RUNNERS WITH  INHALERS WILL NEED TO CARRY THEM AT ALL TIMES.  RUNNERS WITH EPI PENS WILL NEED A VALID SELF-ADMINISTER ORDER, SIGNED BY A DOCTOR, PRIOR TO TRYOUTS AND WILL NEED TO CARRY THEIR EPI PENS WITH THEM AT ALL TIMES.


(Please highlight the above link and paste into your search bar so it becomes a live link.  This is a link to Final Forms registration! Students SHOULD NOT use their Enfield Public School email address as they WILL NOT GET notifications from their coaches via Final Forms!  Please use a personal email address!)

JFK Cross County and Track and Field Tryout Expectations

Student-athletes must have an up-to-date physical posted on Final Forms prior to tryouts. There will be no exceptions. Students who miss the deadline will not be allowed to try out for either sport. Our season is extremely short, and training must begin immediately as we do not have a pre-season schedule in August for cross country or in early March for track and field.

Students cut from another sport will not be allowed to try out for cross country or track and field. Students cannot try out for cross country and track and field at the same time as another sport like soccer, field hockey, baseball, or softball as those tryouts run concurrently to cross country and track and field tryouts. If students are on the ineligibility list due to academics, they cannot try out for track and field. Eligibility is only regained in the following quarter with proof of academic growth, and our season will have already started.  An overall C- average for all classes is required as per district policy.

Cross Country and Track and field are COMPETITIVE INTERSCHOLASTIC sports. They are not fitness clubs. We are looking for individuals with a desire to compete at a high-level who possess qualities needed for running, jumping, and throwing prior to the tryouts. There is no time to condition individuals who have never run before or who have not run distance in several months. Running confidence is built up over a long period of time (two months minimum with consistent training) and requires dedicated and focused training. Jumping and throwing events for track and field have specific mechanics that will be taught to those who show prowess.

Both competitive teams are looking for student-athletes who show aptitude in the following:

1) Distance running for cross country will require a mile time of 8:00 or less.

2) Throwing and Jumping (field events such as discus, shotput, hurdles, long jump and high jump for track and field) Students who wish to throw must compete in shot and discus and one running event.  Students who do field events also have to compete in a running event

3) Speed running (100, 200, 400 meters and 4x100, 4x400 relay for track and field) Times for the 100 need to be under 15.5 seconds. For the 200, times need to be under 35 seconds. For the 400, times need to be at or below 1:18.  For the 800, times need to be at or below 2:55.  For the 1600, runners should be hitting the 6:15 mark.

4) Mid-distance speed running (800 meter and 4x800 relay for track and field) A good 800 time for competition is around 2:55 or under.

5) Distance speed for the 1600-meter race for track and field with the goal of a 6-minute mile or less is good.  If a runner is around 6:15, that is good too.  We are looking for sub-6-minute miles for the 1600.

Tryouts for cross country will last four days. Those trying out are expected to run 2.1 miles at a moderate pace without stopping to show their endurance. There will also be a timed mile run. Our home course will also be run and timed during the tryout period.

Tryouts for track and field will last four days. All runners, no matter what event, will need to run a mile.   Timed races will also be part of the process. Those who only wish to throw shot and disc—both events must be done together—must complete a ‘core challenge’ which includes planking, throwing, and tire flips (at the track if the tire is there) to demonstrate strength. Throwers will also need to compete in one running event. Students who are walking excessively, not following directions, not completing workouts, and not committed to task will not make the team.

Students will be told in person if they did not make the team or by email if they prefer. They will be told what to improve on as well.

The best thing you can do prior to any running sport is to start RUNNING. Start off by setting a goal of running one mile without stopping. You can achieve this by consistently training six days a week. It is best to begin with a run/walk workout. Transition to more running once you feel confident with your endurance. If you can get to the track at Enfield High or the Annex, walk a lap and then run a lap. Four laps equal a mile. Eventually, you will be able to run all four laps with consistent practice and commitment to task. To build speed, run 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints and walk in between each sprint as a recovery.

Running in advance prior to the cross country and track and field seasons will help immensely with your endurance and confidence.  It is best to start consistent training two months prior to tryouts for both cross country and track and field.

Student first, athlete second...

All those who make the team will have two tasks: grades and running.  Success starts in school.  This is vital and expected.  'Student-Athlete' is my favorite adjective.  It embodies commitment to task, hard work, and respect.  Students who make the team will need to maintain a C- overall average as per district policy.  Please refer to team rules for specifics regarding academic probation. 

How to Prepare for Distance Running!

The best thing perspective distance runners can do is to start training prior to the start of our season.  It takes two months of consistent running to build up endurance.  Summer is the best time to begin your training, and the best time of day for this is in the morning! If you have never run before, try a walk/run routine.  You can visit the track at Enfield High or the Annex and walk a lap and then run the next. By the way, four laps is a mile! Continue this routine for about two to three weeks until you feel your endurance building to the point where you can run instead of walking!  You can also create a course in your neighborhood.  Just make sure it is safe.   Consistency is the key to building up endurance!  Cross country is a competitive sport, and students who do not run over the summer will struggle at tryouts and may not qualify for the team.  Please come prepared!

Our running routes near JFK are safe and have been used since 1999.  Our Bosco's Route utilizes Guild Street, Steele Road, Weymouth Road, and Simon Road.  It is a 2.1 mile square that is very popular with our runners.  Our Distance Route takes runners up Raffia to the South Road intersection and back to Sparkle Street, Gem Grove, and Diamond Drive.  One cycle is 3.2 miles.  Two cycles is 6.4 miles.  Our 'Rink Run' is a mile, and is used for speedwork.  Runners use Prior Road, Post Office Road, and Raffia Road to complete the triangle.  We have two hill work routes:  Post Office/Town Farm Road  Pedestrian Path and our Raffia/Bright/Clear Street Route.  It is the runner's responsibility to know each route and pay attention to turns, landmarks and intersecting roads.  Even though I am on my bike, I cannot keep eyes on everyone at every moment.  It is impossible.  This is why runners must know each route well. The same responsibility applies to races in that runners need to pay attention during course walks.  We will not walk each route prior to using them, so please use the zoom features to explore the map of Enfield near JFK so you can become familiar with the running routes.  Perspective runners are highly encouraged to explore these routes on foot or by car prior to tryouts.  Highlight and copy the link below and paste it into your search bar so it becomes a live link:


We have twenty-four waist/over-the-shoulder packs for cell phones and medications.  Runners are not allowed to listen to music while running.  Runners cannot text while running.  They can only use their phones to call me in case of an emergency.  A procedural information card is included in each waist/over-the-shoulder pack.

Cross Country Meets

Middle school meets may involve up to three teams (tri-meet) but usually involve two teams.  Courses average around two miles.  Scoring is based on placement and low score wins.  For example, a runner who finishes first overall earned one point for their team.  A runner who finishes tenth overall earned ten points for their team.  So, in order to win a meet, the top five runners for a team need to finish in the top ten.  All runners are timed. Of course, the most challenging opponent is oneself! 

Parents/guardians are highly encouraged to come to meets!

A bus will take us to each meet and back to JFK.  Arrival times back to school will vary depending on where our meet is held.  I will provide an ETA so runners can call home.  Parents/guardians will pick up at JFK at the auditorium entrance.  Uber rides are not allowed for middle school runners.


[email protected]

Coach Zawodniak has been coaching JFK Cross Country in Enfield since 1999.  He was an assistant track and field coach from 2000-2007 at Enfield High.  He has been coaching JFK Track and Field since 2015.


JFK Cross Country/Track and Field information

All student-athletes need to register via FINALFORMS.  The web address below will assist you in this process.  There are THREE STEPS clearly indicated on the following page:


The page is REGISTER FOR ATHLETICS on Enfieldathletics.com.

The important piece is an up-to-date physical!  If it is not current by the time tryouts commence, you cannot participate. 

On my end, the FINALFORMS page for student-athletes has icons that need to be in the GREEN to qualify for tryouts:

  • Forms signed by the student.
  • Forms signed by the parent. 
  • Physical up-to-date or about to expire.

There are fifteen (15) online forms that must be reviewed by the student-athlete and parent.  On my end, they are under the appellation of Students Form Status.

The participation fee can wait until student-athletes qualify for the team.  That will remain in the RED until confirmed by our athletic director.


Students SHOULD NOT USE their school email as they will not get notifications from the coaching staff through the Final Forms email blasts because of district firewalls. All communication to parents/guardians and students will be through Final Forms.  There will be no Microsoft TEAMs page as two communication platforms are redundant.  

If there are problems registering, please email our athletic director Mr. Cory O’Connell at [email protected].

Best in running, jumping, and throwing.

Coach Zawodniak

[email protected]


                                 JFK Cross Country Rules

  1. School comes first. You must maintain an overall C- average to remain on any interscholastic team in Enfield.  You will receive a progress report in season.  This must be filled out by your teachers.  You will be placed on academic probation if your grades fall during the season.  You cannot participate in practices or meets until grades improve.  If you have numerous D’s, you will put on probation.  Two F’s will put you on probation as well.  Three F’s will see you removed from the team.
  2. Safety is paramount. Any runner who cannot adhere to basic safety practices will be released from the team. You must follow directions when given, especially for our training routes.  You will be safe if you follow directions and protocols.  Always use common sense.
  3. Excellent sportsmanship must always be maintained. Runners will be released from the team if they cannot adhere to this essential rule.  There will be no arguing, name calling, bullying, or interfering with officials or runners.
  4. Practices and meets are mandatory. We practice Monday through Friday at JFK until 4:30 PM.  Meets will end later than practices especially if they are away.  Three unexcused absences within the season will result in dismissal from the team.  Unexcused absences include detention, suspension, and missing practice intentionally.  Excused absences include school-related activities, medical appointments, illness from school, nurse-approved dismissal from school, family emergency, and family events planned well in advance prior to our schedule being created.  Notes or emails about absences are required.  Attendance is taken at practice and meets.  If you play another sport and that sport regularly interferes with cross country, you will be released from the team.  You committed to run, so your attendance is expected.  If your other sport is more of a priority, please focus on that instead of cross country.  Playing two sports within a season can cause injury as recovery time is shortened. 
  5. Cross Country is a competitive sport and there is a try out period. Runners must complete a mile in 8 minutes or less to make the team. The coaching staff reserves the right to decide whether a runner is ‘meet-ready.’  If you don’t like long distance endurance running, this is not the right sport for you. 
  6. Runners are expected to know our training routes—please refer to our cross country page at Enfieldathletics.com for specifics—and are expected to pay close attention to meet course walks. I am on my bike during training but cannot see everyone at once. It is your responsibility to know our training routes and streets.  If you wish to have one of our packs, you are more than welcome to borrow one.  There is a piece of paper with instructions if you become disoriented.  You can bring your cell phone and medications with you and place it in the pack.  You cannot listen to music while you run.  It is a safety issue.

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