FHSAA Cross Country Finals earmarked for Tallahassee

FHSAA Cross Country Finals earmarked for Tallahassee

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FHSAA Cross Country Finals earmarked for Tallahassee

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The Apalachee Regional Park Cross Country Course has quickly earned accolades as one of the nation’s prime venues.

The trail combines several types of surfaces with a natural beauty, not to mention accessible viewing areas for coaches and spectators.

And it’s expected to host the FHSAA Cross Country Championships in November.

The Florida High School Athletic Association recently completed its review and rankings for all proposals for hosting state championship events in baseball, cross country and soccer.

The organization selected Apalachee Regional Park for cross country, and negotiations with the Tallahassee Sports Council should be finalized in the upcoming weeks. A final on-site visit is part of the process.

Gainesville and Daytona Beach also submitted bids to host the cross country finals. The past three state championships were held at the Little Everglades Steeplechase Ranch in Dade City.

“We feel very good about our proposal and very good about the course,” said Brian Hickey, sports marketing director for the Tallahassee Sports Council.

“It’s a phenomenal park.”

The three-year-old course, a result from the coordinated efforts of the Leon County Parks & Recreation, Florida State University and the Gulf Winds Track Club, was recently selected to host the NCAA Division I South Regional Cross Country Championships in November.

Automatic and at-large qualifying teams and individuals advance to the NCAA Championships from nine regional meets across the nation. Last year’s NCAA South Regional, at the University of Alabama’s Harry Pritchett Running Course, drew 27 women’s and 24 men’s teams.

Apalachee Regional Park is already home to various events at the college, prep and age-group levels. More than 1,000 runners representing a field of 17 colleges and universities and 41 high schools from Florida and Georgia participated in the FSU Invitational last fall.

The 2011 FHSAA Finals in Dade City featured 192 teams (Class 1A to 4A, girls and boys) and nearly 1,500 competitors over eight races.

Scott Gowan, who has built Chiles into a perennial power, is excited the FHSAA Finals could be held in the Big Bend’s backyard. He also embraces the course’s varied terrains that feature open and wooded areas.

“I know our kids really like courses that have a woodsy feel to it,” Gowan said.

Tallahassee has hosted state finals in football (Doak Campbell Stadium), flag football (Cox Stadium) and soccer (FSU and Gene Cox Stadium) in past years.

The FHSAA also identified Naples (JetBlue Park) and Melbourne (Melbourne Central Catholic Sports Complex) as finalists for baseball and soccer.

Noteworthy

Former Chiles standout Lily Williams is one of 13 prep runners competing in The Third Annual Adidas Dream Mile Saturday at Ichan Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York. The Girls Dream Mile will begin at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast live by http://www.flotrack.org and http://www.distancepreps.com.

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