By David Fong
COLUMBUS — Kevin Alexander prides himself on preparation.
When the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday it was moving this Saturday’s planned state cross country meet to Nov. 10 due to course conditions, however, it left the Troy coach nearly speechless.
“At first, I was in shock,” Alexander said. “In all my years of coach and as a runner, I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before. I’ve never seen a meet postponed before, especially at the state level. It’s cross country. It’s supposed to be run in slop. But obviously it wasn’t my call.
“This was definitely something unforeseen. I try to play for every option, but this was never on my radar. I had talked to the girls about using half-inch spikes and staying dry and warm and all those things, but I honestly had never talked with them about the possibility it might be postponed.”
The OHSAA announced the race had been postponed due to flooding conditions at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, where the state championships are held.
“While I wholeheartedly understand the impact this move has for all those involved in the event, this is the best solution for the safety and well-being of our participating student-athletes,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “National Trail Raceway has closed the course due to flooding with the on-going rain we have had in central Ohio, so the conditions will hopefully be much better by next weekend.”
Tim Stried, OHSAA Director of Communications, said he believes it is the first time a state cross country meet has ever been postponed. In 2008, the girls basketball state championship games were played on a Monday due to a snow storm, Stried said.
The postponement will affect a number of local runners, including Troy girls Olivia Tyre, Emma Kennett and Dinah Gigandet, Troy Christian boys runner Robert Ventura, the Tippecanoe girls team, the Tippecanoe boys team and the Bradford girls team.
Alexander said he actually doesn’t see the delay affecting his runners’ training schedules too much. He said his runners hadn’t planned on tapering off their training schedules until after the NXN Midwest Regional, which is scheduled for Nov. 11.
“The good thing about this is we had experience with (2017 Division I state champion) Morgan (Gigandet) training all the way through December last year,” Alexander said. “We have that knowledge in the bank. On Saturday (the originally scheduled race day) we are going to have our girls do a progressive tempo run, which is a race-like simulation.”
Byron Kimmel, who coaches both the Tippecanoe boys and girls teams, said his team’s training will be a little more thrown off by the postponement.
“One of our philosophies has been you can’t race well and train hard at the same time,” Kimmel said. “Once we start getting here the (Greater Western Ohio Conference) meet, we shift into a different training system. Now we have this weekend open and we are wondering, ‘What do we do with them?’ Do we give them the day off? Do we do something with some effort to keep them sharp? We’ll probably end up doing some race simulations to keep them sharp.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong