For years, the Fox Valley Conference dual and triangular cross country meets on weekdays were basically training runs.
Coaches did not worry about times until the weekends when larger invitational meets were held. They just wanted athletes to get through the FVC meets in good health and with decent times.
This season, with the COVID-19 pandemic changing the sports landscape, those weekday meets are pretty much all teams have, and they mean a whole lot.
The FVC will take the top five teams from its dual standings to run for the team titles in the boys and girls races. The top five will comprise Flight A, the next five will be in Flight B. That allows for fewer runners on the course at a time, which helps meet the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines the IHSA follows.
Cary-Grove girls cross country coach Mark Anderson explained the plan like this:
“The top five records out of duals go to Flight A,” Anderson said. “The next five will go two hours later. You take your top 21 individuals in both races, that’s your individual champion and all-conference (runners). But the team title’s decided by the top five out of duals (Flight A).”
So a runner from Flight B could be champion, but a team from Flight B cannot.
The FVC Meet will be held Oct. 10 at Burlington Central .
The Kishwaukee River will run its meet Oct. 17 with girls and boys varsity races, but not junior varsity. With six teams, and potentially seven runners per school, the KRC can stay below the 50-runner limit from the IHSA.
Postseason competition: There will not be a state meet this season, but teams will run regional competitions within their class, most of which will be held Oct. 24.
Anderson, who is president of the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association this year, said the ITCCCA will try to put together an unofficial virtual state meet. On the weekend after the regional meets, ITCCCA is inviting teams to run a 5K race on their tracks and turn those in to determine individual and team champions in their respective classes.
“You record it, submit the times to athletic.net and that will be the unofficial state championship,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to spread the word.”
The event has been named the ITCCCA 5K Postal XC Championships. ITCCCA was given approval by the IHSA to hold the races between Oct. 29 and Oct. 31.
There will be races for girls and boys in Classes 1A, 2A and 3A. There also is a junior varsity division. Any team of athlete from an IHSA school can compete.
ITCCCA said since the meets would fall within the IHSA’s fall sports contact period, it would be allowed. IHSA assistant executive director Kraig Garber stated, in an email to Anderson: “I could see where having your team run a 5K on a track without any other teams present, followed by posting performances on athletic.net to see how they would have stacked up against other teams who did the same thing wouldn’t necessarily constitute a contest.”