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September 27-28, 2002 at Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte NC

2002 Great American Cross Country Festival

Plans for 2002


Charlotte, NC - Saturday, February 02, 2002 -- The organizing committee of The Great American Cross Country Festival announced today that the 2002 event will be held at the Ballantyne Resort, which is located outside of Charlotte, North Carolina and twenty minutes from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The Festival will open on Friday, September 27 and continue through Saturday evening, September 28, 2002. Great American includes 35 cross-country races, promoted as Nike's Great Races of America, a Friday night pasta dinner, a wildly successful Saturday night Harrier's Ball and celebrity athletes. New to 2002 will be a free golf outing for coaches and celebrity athletes on Friday and Saturday.

Ballantyne, a former hunting preserve nestled in the gentle foothills of the southern Piedmont, features an 18-hole golf course designed for championship tournaments and large spectator crowds. The resort also includes four hotels, a convention center, a variety of restaurants, a state of the art spa, an indoor swimming pool, and a full size fitness center.

The 5K and 8K cross-country courses, will weave through wooded sections adjacent to the golf course, over lush grass lawns on the golf course fairways, around lakes and ponds and over ridges with vast panoramic views of the Piedmont.

"Ballantyne offers an ideal combination of hotels, restaurants and most importantly an outstanding course," said Rick Hill, Executive Director of Great American." Upon arrival teams will not need to leave the property until Sunday morning. "All hotel rooms within the resort will be within an easy walk of the course, package pick-up, restaurants and group functions," Hill added.

The primary resort hotel has a number of large public gathering areas suited for the Great American format. "A major benefit of Great American is the sharing of knowledge and the creation of new friendships. The resort hotel has several living room areas where coaches and athletes can sit in informal gatherings over-looking the golf course," Hill said. The resort also includes a Marriott Courtyard, a Staybridge Suites where an entire team can stay in one suite and an executive lodge. Charlotte's newest regional mall, 500 overflow hotel rooms and a 22-screen cinema, are also located within five minutes of the resort.

The Ballantyne Cross Country course will be a challenging, all-grass running surface, not typically seen in the south. One important aspect of Ballantyne is that the course has a controlled access. Entry into the starting and finish areas will be by way of a secured tunnel under a ridge. The start will be in a natural tree lined amphitheater adjacent to a very large and steep hill, which is terraced to hold several thousand spectators. The finish is along a lake framed by hills for excellent spectator viewing. Spectators will be controlled by stonewalls, creeks and footbridges. However, almost the entire race will be visible from several strategic viewing points.

The 2002 event projects 5000 runners from 40 states, Canada, Great Britain and Mexico to compete in one of 35 races. The event has grown from 1800 runners in 1999 to approximately 4600 runners in 2001. However, the event will focus more on elite level competition in the coming years and meet organizers will restrict growth through a number of standards and qualification requirements. "It has always been our intent to be a premiere in-season cross-country meet and we have achieved that goal at the high school level. We now plan to make major in-roads into achieving that same level of competition in youth, collegiate and adult divisions, " Hill announced.

Past Great American winners of the girls' division were Bingham (UT) in 1999 and Saratoga Springs (NY) in 2000 and 2001. The boys' divisional winners were The Woodlands (TX) in 1999, Mountain View (UT) in 2000 and Kingwood (TX) in 2001. Historic powers that have also participated include Bend (OR), Bowman (ND), Campbell County (WY), Christian Brothers Academy (NJ), Flathead (MT), Long Beach Poly (CA), Londonderry (VT), Manchester Central (NH), and Mead (WA). However Hill added, "Teams are selected without regard to any outside ranking and well before any polls are released. A win in Great American only determines which team was the best on that day among the attending teams. Great American is more about education and creating a shared identity among a highly diverse group of athletes than establishing bragging rights for any one team. I hope, in time, we will be measured by our development of better citizens than any other standard."

The Friday evening races will include elementary and middle school races, collegiate races and an Open race for post collegiate runners with an Adult Club Championship. The Saturday High School races will include the highly competitive Race of Champions, an Invitational Division, Small School Challenge and Parochial School Race. To maximize competition, the Open High School race held the past three years has been eliminated and now all teams in the Invitational will compete against each other in combined scoring of several sections.

Great American's 2002 date is one week later than in previous years and falls within in the period in which teams can earn points for at large bids to the NCAA Championship. "This new date, had made an immediate and major impact in the quality of our meet at the collegiate level," reported Hill. "In recent years many of the best high school runners in the nation have run in Great American events. Now, we will see many more of them return in the collegiate division and the overall depth of the collegiate races will come up to the level of excellence previously achieved in the high school races".

In 2001, North Carolina State won both the men and women's collegiate races. The women's race also featured Brigham Young University, the eventual NCAA Champion, Arkansas, and University of North Carolina. The men's race included Michigan and individual champion Alan Webb who has won every Great American race he has run in for the first 3 years of the meet's existence.

Hill stated, "In the past few years, Great American's Collegiate races were largely regional competitions with a few notable additions like BYU and Michigan. In 2002, you will see top collegiate teams from every region of the nation. This is an important enhancement of our Festival as it gives high school runners a chance to observe many of the nation's top collegiate programs and a chance for top individuals to be observed by collegiate coaches before the early NCAA signing period".

Last year, Saratoga Springs (NY) won the high school Girls' Race of Champions and Kingwood (TX) won the Boys' Race of Champions. Both teams remained undefeated in 2001 and won their state championships and they will return in 2002 with deep and talented squads. The balance of the high school team field will be announced in May and elite individuals in early June.

As of February 1, over 300 teams had requested entry forms and approximately 80% of the team spots in the Race of Champions and Seeded Invitational races were taken.

Teams seeking entry into the meet should send a self-addressed envelope with $2.00 in postage to Great American, Cross Country Festival, 8710 Lake Challis Lane, Charlotte, NC and enter the meets Registration data base by going to GreatAmericanSports.com.

For additional information contact: Rick Hill, Executive Director. Great American Cross Country Festival Inc. 704-752-1887. E-mail: [email protected]


2002 Great American XC Festival

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in the 2001-2002 school year, earning Charter Sponsor status for 5 years.


Great American Cross Country Festival Inc.

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

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