By JEFF LAMPE
Weekly Post Staff Writer
The cross country season has started in earnest for local teams … and so has talk of possible state championship races.
Prompting the conversation is ShaZam Racing of Peoria, which has announced plans to hold the 2020 XC Championships for grade school and high school cross country runners this fall. Those races are not possible under tcurrent guidelines stipulated by the Illinois High School Association, which allow only for “a single round of regional geographic competition” the week of Oct. 19-25.
According to Adam White, owner of ShaZam Racing and RC Outfitters in Peoria, races would be held at Three Sisters Park near Chillicothe. Dates are Oct. 31 (junior high), Nov. 1 (Division 1, in essence Class 1A), Nov. 7 (Division 2, Class 2A) and Nov. 8 (Division 3, Class 3A). Girls would race in the morning, boys in the afternoon.
White said participants will run for club teams with no official affiliation to a school program. But each club must consist of runners from the same school. Point of contact will not be a coach or school official. Entry cost is $20 per runner.
“Everything we have put together on paper – and with the location where we’re hosting this – there’s no reason we should not be able to do this,” White said. “We’re going to work with all the powers that be to check all the necessary boxes to make it a safe event. And we have to be sensitive to the fact that safety protocols and measures for outside events that we have today might be different tomorrow.”
But White said if current sports guidelines remain in place this fall, the races will happen.
He said the grade school race would be for all schools combined in one division, with up to 20 teams and 30 individuals.
The same formula would be used for high school boys and girls: up to 20 teams and 30 individuals per division, invited by organizers. ShaZam Racing and the MileSplit Illinois website handle the election committee.
Races would be flighted, with the No. 1 runners from each team competing in the first race against the 30 individuals invited. A second race would involve No. 2-3 runners from each team. Flight three would feature No. 4-5 runners from each squad. The last race would be for a team’s No. 6-7 runners.
“Three Sisters gives us plenty of acreage for a course that doesn’t have to overloop on itself,” White said.
Teams will be invited “based upon their 2020 body of work, but not limited to the fall 2020 body of work,” White said.
“We understand there are schools and individuals who have not even been given the opportunity to race,” he said. “We’re just excited to be in a position to be able to do something for the kids.”
Elmwood-Brimfield high school boys coach Gregg Meyers said he likes the idea, even though he would not be able to coach his team at the event.
“If there is something at the end of the season and the kids can have something even somewhat resembling a state meet, I think it would be fantastic for the guys to have that opportunity to compete, if they qualify,” Meyers said. “How much of this season is going to happen? Hope is the thing we are holding onto here.
“It’s not going to be like the IHSA state meet. It’s not going to be perfect,” Meyers continued. “But if it’s an opportunity to go race with your buddies one more time against great competition, enjoy it and have fun with it.”
Meanwhile, across the state, schools are using creative methods to hold multi-team races. St. Thomas More of Champaign helds its Saber Corn Classic last week with 13 teams – down from the usual 30-plus but still a sizable number. The race course was widened and runners competed in flights consisting of: boys and girls races for each team’s top three runners, boys and girls races for each team’s 4-6 runners, and then a race for No. 7 runners of both genders.
Here’s a look at local results from the first week of the season.
The Farmers started Aug. 25 with a home meet against Lewistown. Both Farmington teams won, though Lewistown had only four boys runners.
Senior Adian Basalay of Farmington won the boys race in 20:34 while freshman Brayden Morse was second in 21:36 and the next three fastest Farmers were senior David Pepple (4th, 22:18), junior Aidan Foshay (6th, 24:58), and sophomore Alex Barrett (7th, 26:08).
The Farmington girls edged Lewistown 30-36. Seniors Makenna Hintz (2nd in 25:05), Addy Neal (3rd, 25:26) and Annabelle Easley (4th, 26:57) led followed by freshman Allyson Gorsuch (6th, 28:18) and senior Lily Sharum (9th, 29:09).
On Monday, the Farmers were second to Tremont in the boys race (15-55) and girls race (15-52). Basalay (7th, 19:32) was the top boys finisher and Morse (8th, 20:35) was next fastest. Hintz (8th, 23:19) led the girls, followed by Neal (9th, 24:07) and Easley (10th, 25:09).
Farmington runs again Sept. 9 at home.Elmwood-Brimfield
The Trojans two state-ranked teams were to have run at Metamora Tuesday, but the meet was moved to Wednesday due to rain.
E-B’s girls team is ranked 10th in the MileSplitIL rankings, while the boys squad is rated No. 4 in the Class 1A poll.
The Princes were to open their season Wednesday with a home meet vs. Stark County and United and then travel to El Paso on Sept. 5. An Aug. 27 home meet was cancelled due to the heat.