By Jeff Seidel
For The Baltimore Sun
5:04 PM EDT, August 21, 2013
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has reached an agreement in principle with McDaniel College for the school to host this year's cross country state championship meet on Nov. 9.
MPSSAA executive director Ned Sparks said the meet, usually held at Hereford, needed to be moved since construction at the school made the site and course unavailable this fall. Sparks said MPSSAA officials worked throughout the summer to find another spot for the title meet before settling on McDaniel.
“That’s our intention, to do it there, pending final agreement on the particulars,” Sparks said. “Hopefully, we’ll know in the next week to 10 days.”
McDaniel, then Western Maryland College, hosted the state championship meet in 1991 and 1992, also while Hereford was undergoing construction work.
Other than those two years, the state championship meet has been at Hereford since 1980. The outdoor state track and field championship meet took place at McDaniel for several years before moving to UMBC and then to its present home, Morgan State.
“It’s been there, and quite honestly, they’ve got some newer parts to it that enhance the facility,” Sparks said about McDaniel.
McDaniel sports information director Luke Stillson said the school’s Kenneth R. Gill Stadium reopened last November after an $8 million renovation. In the eight-month job, the school installed new grandstands, press box and coaches boxes, as well as concession stands and team rooms in the stadium.
Sparks said the schedule will remain the same that day as previous years. Four state championship races will take place in the morning, beginning at 10 a.m., and four will follow in the afternoon, starting at 1:30 p.m. Awards ceremonies will follow the last race of the each session.
The annual Bull Run Invitational, usually held at Hereford in the first month of the season, also won’t take place this year because of the construction.
Reservoir coach Phil Rogers, who led the Gators girls team to the Class 3A state title at Hereford last season, said the new location gives runners a different test.
“It’s sad to see the tradition of the state championships at Hereford come to an end [for now],” Rogers said. “The good news is that the new site of the state championships creates a level playing field for the entire state.”
The Severna Park boys won the Class 4A state title at Hereford last fall, and Falcons coach Josh Alcombright said he’s never seen the course at McDaniel, but he has heard that it’s “solid.”
Alcombright said the move to McDaniel isn't going to change his team's training, but not having the meet at Hereford is going to represent a change for him.
“I have coached for 15 years and have always been at Hereford for states, so it will be a very different experience for me personally, as well as the boys,” Alcombright said. “But I am excited to see a new venue and how it plays out. But in all honesty, no matter the venue, the competition should be the main focus when it comes to states -- seeing how you focus against the best in the state."
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