The good news is that if you're a die-hard cross country fan, you can take in both of this weekend's high school invitationals in northern Utah. That would be the beauty of having only two meets. Two meets does not normally constitute a big weekend of competition, but sometimes you have to take into account the nature of the meets.
Starting things out on Friday afternoon will be the Highland Invitational at... the state meet course! And, if you take the trouble to show up, you'll be rewarded with early glimpses of several of Utah's best teams. That would be teams like Bingham, Davis, Herriman, Park City, Ogden, and many more. Several smaller school programs will be an attendance as well. Racing starts at 4 PM, but the varsity races roll off the start line at 5:30 and 5:45 PM.
At stake at this meet, and perhaps helping to ensure that you see most of the top runners from the schools in attendance, is the fact that the Highland Invitational is serving as a qualifier for the invitational portion of the BYU Autumn Classic in September.
Once you've had your fill of racing on Friday evening in Salt Lake City, eat a healthy dinner, kick back a little, and provision your car for the road trip south to American Fork on Saturday. Because we all know there are few shows in Utah high school cross country to rival the American Fork Grass Relays. Local farmers have been baling hay all summer in preparation for this one!
To keep the morning from lasting longer than any morning can last, the FR/SO and JV races are just that--races. But the varsity races are 5 X 2-mile relay races, complete with batons.
Course records on this venerable spikes course are 9:41 by someone named Luke Puskedra and 11:41 by someone named Heidi Magill. If you understand the history of those names in Utah cross country lore, you have some idea of the significance of taking down one of those records. Whether it's significant or not remains to be determined, but Puskedra and Magill are also two of the tallest of the great runners in Utah cross country history. Maybe there is an edge for taller runners on this course!
To prep yourself for the event, tether your netbook to your smart phone (you should have coverage all the way), have someone else do the driving (a sort of designated driver for cross country junkies), and cue up Timo and Bruno's meet page as you roll down the interstate:
You will want to peruse the schedule of events and history of this storied meet. You can view the course map (it takes two one-mile circuits because a two-mile grass circuit would be both much harder to come by and more difficult to adequately supply with hay bales). You can take in the lists of all-time best marks on the course. And, you can even get yourself fired up with a little event video!
Take a few pictures (and feel free to send one or two of the best along to me--I am looking for photos for coverage of this weekend's meets!) to capture the moment, making certain to enjoy yet another glorious weekend of high school cross country action.