The CIF-Southern Section office has announced that Saturday's CIF-SS Ford Cross Country Championship races at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut will be run on a three-mile, fast and flat road "rain" course instead of the college's traditional hilly course due to expected rain on Saturday morning.
"Due to the probability of rain forecasted, and in an abundance of caution for the athletes competing, the CIF Southern Section office, in consultation with meet management, has determined the Mt. SAC rain course will be used for the CIF Southern Section Ford Cross Country Championships on Saturday," the CIF section officials said in a press release.
The decision comes as boys and girls teams and individuals from throughout CIF's largest high school section prepare to compete in five separate divisions. The division finals will determine both SS team champions and the top team and individual qualifiers for the Nov. 25 CIF-State Cross Country Championships at Fresno's Woodward Park.
Reaction to the course change was mixed, but Temecula's Great Oak and Corona's Santiago coaches, Tammy Draughon and Ricardo Etheridge, noted that it will be the same conditions for everyone and that their respective teams are ready for it.
"I have no concerns," said Etheridge, whose Shark boys and girls teams will each compete in Division I races. Scattered rains during the week and seeing advance forecasts helped him and his teams prepare for this change. "I already prepared my kids last week for this possibility and it has helped them prepare mentally for it. We are looking forward to running on this course. We're looking forward to the challenge. We've taught the kids to learn how to overcome adversity. When adversity strikes, your character is truly revealed in how you respond."
Draughon, whose Great Oak teams are also running in Division I, expressed some disappointment in not getting to run on the hilly course at Mt. SAC for the finals, but isn't worried about a letdown. "We've trained for the hills, so this is a complete change from what we've prepared to race. Having said that, all teams are in the same place we are with the course change. We would always choose the hills and more of an authentic cross country experience when we have a choice. With all of that (said), we will be on the start line and completely prepared to compete!"
Racing begins at 7:45 a.m. with Division V boys, followed by Division I boys at 8:05 a.m. Division V girls run at 8:25 a.m. and Division I girls at 8:55 a.m. The Division II boys run at 9:25, followed by the Division III girls at 9:45. The Division IV boys go at 10:15 a.m, and the Division II girls follow at 10:35. The Division III boys run at 11:05 a.m. and the day concludes with Division IV girls at 11:25 a.m. All times are Pacific.
An awards ceremony commences for each division within an hour after the race with first- and second-place teams and the top 15 individuals in each race receiving awards.