September 24, 2009
From the National Scholastic Sports Foundation

Great American Cross Country Festival Comes toCary

Over 2000 runners expected


The Great American Cross-Country Festival is back home in Cary, NC. Accepted as one of the nationʼs top five in-season cross-country meets, the annual event kicks off next Friday afternoon October 2nd at the Wake-Med Soccer Park with college and university teams vying for top honors in the AT&T Race of Champions. High school and community races follow on Saturday morning along with the inaugural Robert Shumake Historically Black College & University Challenge. Over 2000 athletes are expected.

Returning to Cary after a three-year hiatus in Hoover, Alabama, the event is unique blend of cross-country competition and festival pageantry. National and regionally ranked high school and collegiate runners will compete amidst high school bands, clowns, stilt-walkers, face painters and a jubilant gala atmosphere.

The AT&T Race of Champions for high school girls and boys will feature nationally ranked teams and a host of teams ranked in the Southeast, Northeast and New York Regions by and For teams from the Southeast Region this will be a preview of whatʼs to come at the Nike Cross Nationals Regional Championships in November which will also be contested at the Wake-Med course.

On the girls side competition will be fierce between top Southeast teams, Blacksburg, VA, Midlothian, VA, Collins Hill, GA, Hidden Valley, VA and Bishop Kenny, FL ranked number 2, 3, 5, 6 &7 respectively, as they chase the number 3, 13 and 18 nationally ranked teams from New York, Saratoga Springs, North Shore and Monroe-Woodbury.East Chapel Hill and the Cary home team Green Hope should be up with the leaders as well.

The boys AT&T Race of Champions will be equally competitive. Expect battles between the Southeast ranked #4, 5, 6 and 9 teams, St. Xavier, KY, Blacksburg, VA, Collins Hill, GA and Parkview, GA as they go against Northeast #3 and 7 Bishop Guertin, NH and Bishop Hendrickens, RI. Also keep an eye on Broughton and Leesville Road from Raleigh and Green Hope from Cary.

Jim Spier, Executive Director of the NSSF said today, "Weʼre extremely pleased with the number and quality of our entries for our return to Cary and we are ecstatic to be back here. The Town of Cary and the Greater Raleigh CVB have been super with their cooperation and support." The event was held in Cary from 2003-2005.

According to Spier there is also excitement about a new collegiate event. Saturdayʼs schedule includes the Robert Shumake Historically Black College and University Challenge. "Entries for these races have exceeded our expectations for the first year," Spier said. "There is such a tradition of competition for bragging rights between HBCUs within their own conferences but there is no national competition that can bring them all together. We believe this Challenge is the start of something significant that may well spill over into track and field."

Those sentiments were echoed by the eventʼs coordinator, Cedric Walker. "Cary is a convenient location because its within driving distance for most of these schools," Walker said. "And, the bragging rights go along with two $1500 scholarships to the winning teams from the Shumake Family Foundation. Several of this areaʼs top HBCU teams will be here led by our host team, St. Augustine College from Raleigh. You can expect to see Morehouse, Bowie State, Hampton, South Carolina State, Livingstone College, Virginia State, Winston-Salem State, North Carolina Central, Paine, Shaw University and several others."

The Great American Cross-Country Festival will be held October 2-3, 2009 at the Wake Med Soccer Park in Cary, NC. Competition begins at 3pm on Friday and at 8:00 am on Saturday morning. It is owned and operated by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation, a not-for-profit organization which raises funds to support the development of the sports of track and field and cross-country and provides travel and equipment grants to athletes and teams in those sports.