OHSAA cancels Early Season Cross Country Invitational

The West Liberty-Salem girls cross country team finished as Division III state runners-up in Saturday’s race at National Trail Raceway in Hebron/ Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

The Ohio High School Athletic Association Early Season Cross Country Invitational was cancelled Wednesday because of concerns about the large size of the event.

The meet was scheduled to take place Aug. 15. The race would have been run on the site where the state championship meet will be held for the first time in November: Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park on the south side of Columbus.

“We are very disappointed that the event is cancelled and understand that there will be frustrations from our student-athletes, but we have to put safety first,” said OHSAA Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring in a statement. “We are meticulously moving forward with reopening our seasons for competition and appreciate the guidance of the Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health. We also appreciate the cooperation of Fortress Obetz and we look forward to conducting our state championships there November 7.”

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Earlier in the week, Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health reclassified cross country as a low-contact sport, meaning the season can begin Aug. 24. The OHSAA recommends smaller events be held.

Also this week, the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches released a statement supporting the season beginning. It read in part:

“Up and until March 2020, student-athletes relied primarily on the guidance and encouragement of their coaches for the everyday routines that provided them the opportunity to be the best physically trained athletes possible for themselves and their teammates. They found satisfaction and enjoyment by engaging in the activities they loved with their friends and their trusted coaches. Student-athletes cannot be expected to engage in regular exercise routines without the encouragement of their coaches. In the absence of in-person practices, coaches need the authority from their schools to provide their student-athletes with training schedules and resources to maintain regular exercise routines while following all safety guidelines in place at that time.”

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