Prioritizing performances is a topic worthy of a bigger post, but I didn't want to let it go without at least sharing the link to an interview with Iona's Andrew Ledwith, who finished 3rd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. He discusses a number of topics, but the point that came through most clearly for me was the way in which he--and his team--exercised incredible discipline throughout the season in terms of prioritizing their performances.
When he discusses his 9th place performance at the Pre-Nationals:
And when he described the overall preparation and race performances leading up to the NCAA Championships:
It's easy to get caught up in the moment in races, and to treat every race as a must-win situation. Similarly, it takes a lot of inner fortitude and self-assurance to hold back and not feel the need to beat people in mid-season races. But if you trust your training, every race leading up to a championship should be less of a test and more of an experiment.
As Ledwith explains, the team would "go hard here, go hard there" in mid-season races. I feel this is something runners don't do enough of. If your team is on the fringe of qualifying and every point counts, perhaps the system doesn't allow you to implement such an approach. But that's not the case for most runners, particularly those in high school.
There is a time and a place to go 100%. Similarly, there is a time and a place to try new things, take some risks, and emphasize learning over finishing place. As you prepare for your upcoming track seasons, I hope you'll take the opportunity to plan some experimentation into your early season races.