So what do you do when you’ve got four high schools that use the same location to host cross country dual meets, and those meets are designated for the same day?
According to Suburban Council cross country representative and Saratoga Springs coach Linda Kranick, whose girls’ team is among the many involved in the unique scenario, you keep the communication channels open and adjust.
“It’s crazy because of COVID,” Kranick said. “We’re going to make it work. It involves a lot of cooperation with the coaches and the athletic directors.”
Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Ballston Spa, like Saratoga, call Saratoga Spa State Park their home running course. The Suburban Council schedule that was released last month and was adjusted for the shortened fall season designated Saturday to be the day dual meets are contested, while in the past, league meets were conducted on Tuesdays and Wednesday, which made scheduling a little easier.
Shenendehowa alleviated some of the congestion at Saratoga Spa State Park by opting to use its high school course when it hosts three races, while also using Queensbury’s course for its other “home” meet.
“With all of the new things this season, we decided for us it would be a better situation for management to run on our campus,” Shenendehowa girls’ coach Rob Cloutier said.
Saratoga and Burnt Hills are scheduled to host morning meets at Saratoga Spa State Park on different Saturdays, and Ballston Spa will host its meets there in the afternoon.
“Linda Kranick put a lot of time into it and proposed it to the ADs,” Section II girls’ cross country coordinator and Columbia girls’ coach Ashley Gansle said. “She’s the mastermind.”
Kranick said the only remaining conflict is on Nov. 7, when Saratoga, Burnt Hills and Ballston Spa are all scheduled to run at Saratoga Spa State Park.
“That one hasn’t been worked out yet,” Kranick said.
Competition at Saratoga Spa State Park will take place on the Peerless Pool course rather than the championship course that is used for invitationals, league title meets and the Section II finals, none of which are scheduled for this fall.
Suburban Council teams this season will not run in the same race against other teams, but rather, in separate races, and times will be tabulated afterward to determine runner placement and team results. There will be a break between races to maintain social distance between runners.
“We’re trying to keep schools separate, and provide structured meets with a concern for the health and safety not just for athletes but spectators and coaches,” Kranick said.
A statement from Saratoga Spa State Park reads, in part: “When a school team finishes their races, the team and coaches will leave the park. The next school team will then run its races, and leave upon concluding. There will be a total of 48 runners and two spectators allowed per runner in accordance with state Department of Health Guidelines. Social distancing will be enforced for spectators.”
Suburban Council dual meets will include four scoring races, two for boys and two for girls, with as many as 12 varsity and 12 junior varsity athletes from each school allowed to run together.
At some league meets, Gansle said the varsity and JV runners might run separately.
“There’s still an excitement,” Cloutier said of the lack of head-to-head competition. “Putting the uniform on, there’s a different feel to it.”
Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.