By Craig Pearson
The weather made for a perfect fall afternoon Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Course. For what it’s worth, the Farmer’s Almanac calls for more sunny conditions from Nov. 20-24, with the NCAA Championships falling on the 24th this year. The forecast also calls for rain to snow from Nov. 25-26 and snow showers as soon as the 27th.
The Pre-Nationals, under the organization of first-time meet director Geoff Wayton, went on without any hitches Saturday, and the record-breaking performances provided the often running fans and runners plenty of thrills.
Karen Harvey, coach of the third-ranked Florida State women’s team, offered her sentiments on the course without being asked.
“We love coming here. I’ll come here until the end of my career. I love it here. I’ve always loved it here, said Harvey, who also helped build the Illinois women’s program, where former North Putnam prep standout Cassie Hunt ran, to its current status as the No. 17 team in the nation.
ISU’s men’s coach John McNichols has heard similar kudos from many coaches since the course has now been host to the Pre-Nationals and NCAA championships for the fifth consecutive time and sixth time overall. The events will return in 2009 and likely for at least part of the time for many years to come.
“It was a great day for the course, the city of Terre Haute and Indiana State University,” said McNichols. “This is one of the premier events each year in the sport of cross country and I think any coach here today would feel the same way. The execution of the meet by our officials, staff, volunteers and spectators was tremendous and hopefully we can have many of these teams return in November for the NCAA Championships.”
• Valley athletes compete — Former Terre Haute North standout Josh Bedford and North Central’s Robert Shiflett competed Saturday in the Pre-Nationals.
Bedford ran the open race for Indiana State, running a time of 26:39.8 to take 96th place.
Shiflett was Purdue’s No. 3 runner in the men’s white race, placing 235th in a time of 26:21. The Boilermakers took 39th place.
Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (812) 231-4357.