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State makes changes to postseason cross country

The state-qualifying and state cross country meets will both be split into two days to accommodate for competition and crowds with COVID-19 related precautions, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced Wednesday in a joint statement.

Next month’s state-qualifying meets as well as the state meet will now be separated by classification and completed over two days at various regional sites, it was announced. The Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships will still be held at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, but divvied up into separate days and time windows.

Class 4A and 3A teams will run their state-qualifying meets a day earlier than scheduled, with those district and regional events taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Class 2A and 1A races will be held as scheduled, on Thursday, Oct. 22, and all state-qualifying meets start at 4 p.m.

Marshalltown High School will host a state-qualifying meet, but only with 4A competition instead of the oft-conducted doubleheader event including a 1A regional.

The state meet will also be split into two days, as 4A and 3A teams take to Fort Dodge on Friday, Oct. 30, and 2A and 1A teams converge at Lakeside on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Each day’s races will also be spaced out by classification, too. The 4A girls will run at 10:30 a.m., the 4A boys compete at 11 a.m., while the 3A girls lead off the evening session at 3:30 p.m. and the 3A boys close out the opening day of state cross country with a 4 p.m. race.

On Halloween, the 2A girls get the day underway at 10:30 a.m. followed by the 2A boys at 11 a.m. The 1A girls take off at 3:30 p.m. and the 1A boys close out the weekend with a 4 p.m. start.

“Our joint championship in Fort Dodge has long been a special event for our participants and fans,” said IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger. “Changes to any successful championship are never easy, but holding a two-day meet is our best option this year. Our new plan really focuses on a safe and rewarding experience, something we all agree is our top priority.”

The changes to cross country’s postseason schedule has been approved by the IHSAA and IGHSAU.

Class 1A’s state-qualifying meets will now number eight instead of five to reduce attendance at each site. The top-two teams from each 1A district will advance to state, making it 16 qualifying squads instead of the regular 15. The top-10 individual district finishers will advance to state as well, instead of the traditional top-15, to reduce the number of competitors.

This one-time change to 1A has been approved for this year only, while 2A, 3A and 4A will proceed with normal qualifying measures.

“The IHSAA is grateful to the Fort Dodge community, particularly the Parks and Recreation Department and Lakeside Municipal Golf Course for their efforts to make a two-day state co-ed cross country event possible,” said IHSAA executive director Tom Keating. “By allowing us to run each class individually, the Fort Dodge community is contributing to our commitment to safety for participants, coaches, workers, media and spectators. This is another example of the outstanding support and partnership we enjoy with the city, the golf course and the wonderful volunteers who make this event special.”

The state-qualifying meet sites have been posted by both the IHSAA and IGHSAU, and team assignments will be released the week of Oct. 12.

Parking will be available inside Kennedy Park, but spectator tailgating will not be permitted. Admission for spectators will be $10 each upon arrival to Kennedy Park as the shuttle bus system utilized in 2019 will not be used at the 2020 event.

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