The North Coast Section cross country championships scheduled to take place at Hayward High School Saturday have been rescheduled to Tuesday, and a contingency plan is being crafted that would allow runners to apply for admission to the state meet should the NCS contest be canceled altogether because of air quality concerns.
The news is expected to quell much unease among coaches and athletes who were growing increasingly worried that if the NCS meet is canceled, runners would be barred from advancing to the CIF state cross country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 24.
Unlike the North Bay League Oak and Redwood championship meets that were canceled last week because of poor air quality, the section finals are qualifiers for the state meet.
A number of local teams and runners have posted times that put them in the running for a podium finish at the state meet. In addition to the worry about qualifying, teams have been training for more than a week without a clear race-day target.
CIF officials announced Tuesday that the state championship schedules for water polo and football would be altered to allow for changes and postponements in the playoff calendars, but no changes were made to the state cross country meet that will go on as scheduled the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, the Santa Rosa Junior College cross country team is still slated to compete in the California Community College Athletic Association championship at Woodward Park Saturday.
The start time was moved up from 10 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to maximize the chance for better air quality.
An air quality reading will be taken at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and if the index comes back higher than 151, the race will not be held, according to SRJC head coach David Wellman.
“We are working on contingencies on what to do if we cannot run the races,” he said. “We’re possibly looking at going back to Woodward after the high school state meet, possibly looking at a coast school option that is relatively close to Fresno this weekend.”
The Bear Cubs have NorCal champion and Piner grad Jonny Vargas, as well as Petaluma High grad P.J. Lynch, slated to compete on the men’s side. The entire womens’ squad is set to race.
“We’re hoping for the best,” Wellman said.
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or email@example.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”