For the first time in more than18 months the CIF-SS Advisory Committee and Southern Section assistant commissioner Rainer Wulf met in person to prepare for the upcoming 2021 cross country postseason for the Southern Section.
With the CIF-SS Postseason Bulletin in its final touches and soon to be released, the return to the Mt. San Antonio College Course continues to be a source of excitement in the section. The longtime course hosted the sectional prelims and finals from 1981 until 2015.
With construction beginning on the stadium and athletic facilities, the city of Riverside hosted the divisional prelims in 2016 in anticipation of hosting the postseason all throughout the period of construction. With the COVID-19 shutdown eliminating the 2020 season altogether, the entire section is buzzing with the return to Mt. SAC.
The Fastback Invitational successfully hosted its 2-mile version of the course two weekends ago and the Mt. SAC Invitational is fully prepared to go off during the third weekend of October. In short, everything is in place for a successful return to the course!
Reflecting back to the Advisory Council meeting, a tentative schedule for the two-day prelims was put in place, starting at 7:45 am on Friday, November 12. Here's the tentative divisional schedule:
- Friday, November 12: Divisions 4 and 2
Saturday, November 13: Divisions 3 and 5 in the morning, Division 1 in the afternoon
Based solely on numbers from the 2019 postseason, each division would have four heats (the top four automatically qualify for the Nov. 20 finals) except for the Division 4 boys and girls, and the Division 3 girls. For divisions with three heats, the top five teams will automatically advance. For the three sixth-place teams, the squad with the fastest team time will be allotted that 16th qualifying spot.
Remember that this is tentative and will not be finalized until November 6.
Another upgrade put in place will allow for all individuals placing in the top 10 at their respective league finals, which is NOT on a qualifying squad, to advance onward to the postseason. In the past, an individual not on a qualifying team had to finish in the top six.
A conversation was generated that included possible "at-large" individual entries. But the argument was made that any individuals in that particular conversation should qualify within the top-10 in their league in a more objective advancement formula.
With some on the advisory committee witnessing a 15-25% drop in overall attendance in most programs from before the pre-COVID 19 shutdown, being more inclusive in allowing more individuals to qualify would be the best route to take.
Although the Southern Section will return to 16 teams qualifying for the November 20th finals, the "at-large" format is still in play. Any squad that does not qualify from their league finals but appears in the top 13 in any two of the final four weeks will receive an invitation to compete at the Nov. 12/13 prelims. The at-large team scenario came into play in qualifying 13 squads for the 2019 postseason in Division 3 alone.
Once again, squads will be allowed a pool of 12 athletes and can utilize anybody in that pool over the course of the two weekends.
The top seven squads in each division, per gender, will advance to the California State Meet during the Thanksgiving weekend of November 27th. The one change in 2021 is that in the Southern Section, only the top six girls squads from Division 5 will advance.
Our partners at Finished Results will once again be there to handle the timing and live results at the CIF-SS meets! They will set up a 'midway' point for scoring at the base of The Switchbacks, which runs approximately 1.6 miles into the iconic 2.94-mile course.
Mark Gardner is the Southern Section editor for MileSplitCA.