The 2020 K-Bell Invitational, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, at Westmont High School, has been cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus. The decision was made Tuesday (March 10), one day after Santa Clara County issued an order shutting down public events larger than 1,000.
The meet annually draws 2,000 entries plus fans and volunteers.
The meet is a joint venture between the San Jose Kiwanis Club and Bellarmine College Prep.
"We had options available to us," said John Mahany, assistant track coach at Bellarmine and one of the meet directors. "But because of the mandate of only 1,000, the way to get around it is to cut our entries dramatically. We also have volunteers and spectators.
"This is a big meet for not only top runners on teams be able to run. Rather than having a meet for only elites we decided not to have a meet at all."
In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, multiple California Interscholastic Federation playoff basketball games had already been forfeited. It's unlikely that large track and field invitationals could take place in Santa Clara County until the order is lifted (it currently extends through March 31). Professional sports are also affected, with the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Earthquakes trying to decide whether to have their games in empty stadiums and arenas or to move them. It's also possible that Stanford's women's basketball team will be unable to play host to the NCAA first and second rounds.
The Kiwanis Club and Bellarmine College Prep normally split the revenues from the meet, which are around $25,000 a year, according to Mahany. Kiwanis uses its half to fund "Turnaround Scholarships" for students who have dropped out of high school for various reasons but then turned their life around and are now headed to college. Teenage parents who want to go to college also benefit. Bellarmine uses its half to fund tuition for needy students.
Mahany is also a member of the San Jose Kiwanis Club.
"It's unfortunate," he said. "We're disappointed."
He added, "Our team meeting was just breaking up. It's a situation where there's a lot worse impact than just our athletics. There's a lot of people worse impacted than what we are having here. In the big picture, we have a dual meet with St. Ignatius this week. Our kids are still going to compete. We'll be OK.
"Well be OK and the majority of kids here understand."