One down, 18 to go.
That's the countdown on The News-Gazette High School All-Decade teams. The boys' cross-country listing was published on Monday (Jan. 4) and will be followed by another team each Monday for another 18 weeks.
Next week, we'll release our girls' cross-country list.
You might suspect that this is an overwhelming task, full of dozens of deserving candidates.
You'd be right.
To narrow down our list and get us more workable numbers to consider, there are a few starting points for us. First, it is truly a decade of the 2000s listing, which means sports whose seasons ended between 2000 and 2009 will be considered.
The current boys' basketball season will not be taken into account, although the possibility exists that if someone were a strong enough player as of last March, he (or she!) would warrant consideration. Similarly, the 1999-2000 season for basketball and wrestling will be included, but for individuals who were seniors that year, only their performance from that season will be taken into account. What they did in 1998-99 is irrelevant.
The goal is to evaluate players based on the actual decade only and nothing more.
Next, for the sports where we've selected All-Area teams for the entire decade, we give greater weight to the number of times an individual made the All-Area first team. If someone was good enough to be a first-teamer all four years, that person will have a greater chance to be on the All-Decade team that someone whose career bloomed later and resulted in one All-Area selection.
For individual sports, such as tennis, golf, swimming and cross-country, how the person fared in the postseason is the most influential aspect of the decision. Conference championships are nice, but that's a very limited stage. If someone excels at the regional, sectional and state levels, that person will have an advantage over others.
It's important to note, it's not just about qualifying for state, but how a person fares once they reach that level. A four-time state qualifier in wrestling who never earns a medal is not quite the same as a two-time state-qualifier who has two medals.
We realize there will be picks where people agree and others where folks will think we're totally off base. Regardless of how you feel about a particular team or selection, keep in mind we've put the same amount of effort into tracking down results and considering dozens of athletes.
Football is an exception, but most teams will have around 10 or 12 picks for the All-Decade teams. As I look at the ones we've finalized thus far, there are at least that many others who you could make a strong case for inclusion.
It's a challenging project and one which will go on until May before it runs its course.
The best part? We won't have to do it again for another decade! As the series continues, we'd like to hear your thoughts on why you agree or disagree with certain picks.