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Why can they manage to get the boys at those small schools out but not the girls?
That goes into a whole other discussion of gender roles in our society, in the present as influenced by the past. In short, it is not quite that simple. Witness girls who excel in the sciences early in their schooling somehow become less and less adept in response to social pressures, as shown in study after study. Smart women (as well as athletic women) are not generally perceived as most attractive, which is reinforced by media images. Especially in a small town setting? It is a weird and unfortunate thing yet nonetheless true.
Anyway, I think the important thing to remember here is that for the vast majority of participants, it is still simply an extracurricular activity. Where is the line between something that enhances scholastic life for the greatest proportion and a highly competitive/developmental model that better enables identifying talent? What are the true and highest goals of extracurricular programs, in high school or in college? In response to comments like that made by Nick Stanko on Jay Johnson's blog entry, I would say that how prepared college runners might be for the senior distances at World Cross is essentially irrelevant to where the distance(s) for collegiate cc races should be set — plus, it is unclear whether racing over 10K helped those middle distance runners he listed more than it may have hurt them. Why does essentially no other nation's middle distance program push runners to race 10K as they approach senior ranks? I might contend, however, that an 8K maximum for most college runners could enable more sound development of a greater number of runners and thus cultivate a greater talent pool from which to draw the teams for World Cross.