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American Independent Schools XC Championship to be created

NSSF plans to launch new meet in NC next October

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By SteveU

 The National Scholastic Sports Foundation (NSSF) has announced that it is creating a national championship race for teams and individuals from independent schools. 

The American Independent Schools XC Championship will be held Saturday, October 2, 2010, at the Wake-Med Soccer Park in Cary NC.  While the event will be on the same weekend and on the same course as the NSSF’s Great American XC Festival, NSSF officials are emphasizing that the independent schools championship is a completely separate event from Great American, with separate administration, separate registration, separate awards, and so on.  The event will be open only to private and independent schools who are not members of their state’s high school federation.

Much of the motivation to create the event came from the fact that the Great American meet had to turn away teams and athletes from competing due to responses of other states in the sanctioning process.  This process, explained NSSF executive director Jim Spier, involves meet officials sending a list of states, from which they want teams to be able to compete in their meet, to the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS).  Then the NFHS sends the request to those various state associations involved.  Then the state associations send back a list of conditions which must be met for the teams from their states to compete in the event. 

New York and Georgia were among the states that said athletes from non-state association member schools could not compete if teams from their states were able to do so, Spier said.  Therefore, they had to turn down “several hundred athletes,” including US#7 Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft and Thomas Graham of Cary Academy, two of North Carolina’s top runners.  Frazier, a freshman at Raleigh school, in fact had set a course record at Wake-Med in the Wolfpack Invite in September.

Spier said “in theory” they could have created a race just for independent schools, but they wanted to have Frazier and Graham racing the elites in the top races.  He admitted creating this new meet doesn’t necessarily solve that particular problem, but they hope to attract enough interest so the races are competitive both individually and team-wise.  Creating a stand-alone meet avoids the problem of dealing with some state federations that do not want non-member schools in an event at all, even if they are in a different race, said A.J. Holzherr, Director of Development at the NSSF.

The NSSF is making a systematic effort to attract interest and make schools aware of the event, attempting to contact harrier programs in such institutions in every state.  At this point, varsity and JV races are planned, but more would be added if necessary.  Spier said there are about 70 independent or non-association schools in North Carolina, 40-50 more in Virginia, and estimates there are “several hundred on the East Coast, for sure,” and that substantial fields could be drawn from these numbers, as well as those from other states.

“We feel this event has great potential,” said Holzherr, “and is a great opportunity for a lot of schools and a lot of kids.  It’s a full stand-alone event and any private or independent school in the country (which is not a state association member can participate.”

The NSSF has issued a press release about the event and more information will be forthcoming on nationalscholastic.org.