Lancaster-Lebanon League cross country meets are going to look a bit different when the season gets underway next month. The changes come as a safety measure while teams are attempting to compete this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They were decided upon at Wednesday’s annual preseason league cross country meeting of head coaches, held at Penn Manor High School.
Limited amount: In normal years, junior high and high school cross country meets would be held together on the same day with staggered start times, with no limit on the amount of runners in each event.
Now, the host school of each league meet has a couple options on how they’d like to proceed.
Cross country events will allow up to 12 runners per event. One option is to still hold the junior high and high school races on the same day. In that case, however, each school may only enter up to 12 runners per event, with no more than 48 runners total across the four events.
The second option is to split the junior high races on one day and the high school races on another day. In that case, each school may still enter a maximum of 48 runners on each day, but it would allow more runners per event across the two days. For instance, on the day of junior high races, a maximum of 12 boys and 12 girls per team would be allowed for the varsity junior high race and a maximum of 12 boys and 12 girls per team would be allowed for junior varsity junior high races. Then, on the other day for high school races, a maximum of 12 boys and 12 girls per team would be allowed for the varsity high school races, and a maximum of 12 boys and 12 girls per team would be allowed for the junior varsity high school races.
“Whoever is hosting the meet decides how they’re going to run their meet,” said Penn Manor athletic director Steve Kramer, who serves as the L-L cross country chairman.
Masks: Runners will be required to wear masks upon arrival to each event, and may only remove them at the starting line.
“When the race is about to begin, that’s when masks are off,” Kramer said. “As (the runners) come through the finish line, we discussed having each team having their own pod, so to speak, where they go their own spot and runners put a mask on.”
No spectators will be allowed at the events, per orders from Gov. Tom Wolf. Each school is still figuring out a way to possibly livestream the events.
Revised schedule: The revised league schedule now consists of five league meets over four weeks: Sept. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 1, Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. While that’s a lot of running in a short amount of time, runners do not have to compete in every regular season league meet. In other words, a runner may still qualify for the end-of-season league championship meet even if he or she did not compete in every regular season league meet.
League championship races: The league championship meets will be held over two days, both at Ephrata Middle School. The boys high school league championship races are scheduled for Oct. 20, followed by the girls high school league championship races Oct. 21. Each team will be allowed to enter up to seven runners.
The first 10 runners from Class 3A schools and first 10 runners from Class 2A schools to cross the finish line in each league championship race will qualify for the District Three championship races. The runners on the top two teams from each league championship race will also qualify for districts.
“At the (league cross country) meeting (Wednesday) night, the general consensus is everyone is ready,” Kramer said. “Teams have been putting in a lot of work over the summer to get to this point. They’re ready to run. The guidelines we have in place is the safest version we have to offer.”
The district championship races are scheduled for Oct. 31 at Big Spring High School. Each district championship race will have a cap of 96 runners.