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In cross-country the low score wins. Each runner receives a finish card in the chute with the place of finish written on it. The first runner gets number one, the second runner number two, etc. The places of the first five runners are added together to calculate the team score.
A "team" is technically composed of seven runners: the first five who do the actual scoring, and the sixth and seventh runners, "pushers", who can finish ahead of scoring runners on other teams and push their scores higher. In a dual meet where each team might enter as many as 30 runners, only the top seven runners from each team figure in the tallying of the score.
The following scorecard shows how the #6 and #7 pushers from Team B helped win the meet.
Team A Team B
If two teams tie, the team whose sixth runner comes in ahead of the others teams’ sixth runner will win the meet. If a team takes places 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in a meet, its score is a ‘perfect score" of 15.
In a dual meet if a team scores 27 points or less it will win. Also in a dual meet, if one team places runners first, second, and third, it will always win.
When running in large meets with many runners, it is best to get your "pack"
(top 5 scoring runners) to finish as high up as possible. Many teams have
been undone by having slow #4 or #5 runners. For example, it Team A finishes
1,2,3,4 and 70 scoring 80 points, Team B with a closer pack could win by
placing 10, 11, 15, 19, and 23 for a total of 78 points. One of the most
exciting parts of watching cross country meets is trying to figure the
score by locating all five scoring runners on rival teams and comparing
them to our top five.