SHERIDAN — Even cross-country runners can enjoy a sports draft. Sandwiched in between the two largest drafts of the year — the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft — resides the Sheridan High School cross-country team draft. 

For the last six years, head coach Art Baures has conducted a draft where his team captains will select current and prospective runners for the upcoming season. Each team is comprised of 7-9 runners who must log their summer mileage daily.  At the end of the season a prize is awarded to the team that ran the most consistently over summer. Garett Avery’s team claimed the title in 2018, winning blue and gold warm-up jackets. 

“It’s a blast,” Alex Garber said. “You can give each other crap for it, saying ‘You didn’t run this, this summer or whatever.’ You get after it, and as a team, you just pick it up. It’s a friendly competition to keep you striving to get better.”

Baures got the idea from the football team’s weight-room program. To make it fit the cross-country team, Baures doesn’t score it according to sheer mileage but rather the competition revolves around consistency. 

If an athlete runs at least two miles, that’s considered a running day. For example, if runner A ran eight miles and runner B ran two miles and both are on the same team, two points get recorded for that team on that day. While in June runners must traverse two miles, July and August require running at least three miles for it to be considered a running day. 

Baures has seen the summer running program blossom over the years, creating friendly competition among teammates and increasing a runner’s buy-in within the team. 

“The thing I like about it is it’s long-term,” Baures said. “So if a kid was on the winning team, it’s kind of like when you’re on a state championship team, you want to defend it. Or if you weren’t on that team, ‘OK next year, I’m going to grab my buddy who is on the team and make them run with me.’ 

“The runners get pretty jacked about it.”

The goal is to build team camaraderie and a closeness that can transfer over into workouts and during meets. The lack of a pack mentality stood as one of the main culprits as to why Sheridan didn’t do as well as it would have liked at the state meet last season. 

While throughout the regular season, the Broncs stuck together at meets and helped push one another, they got away from that a little bit at state and their placing dropped as a result.

“As they got to the state meet they got spread out, which is death,” Baures said. “Sometimes people want it too much and we just lost sight of it, and it’s hard because those other teams want to win just as bad. That’s why we go to these big meets to get that competition, so they know this is the mindset.”

Baures hopes the draft, a summer where many runners gathered together and team workouts will create a stronger bond — a bond that won’t get lost at state.