The path to the state cross country meet will get slightly easier this year for teams and individuals.
The University Interscholastic League will expand the state championships field to include the fourth-place teams and the top 10 individuals who are not on teams that advanced from regional meets.
The field previously included the top 10 individuals and top three teams from the four regions.
Local coaches support the change.
“Every year at the state meet you see empty boxes at the starting line,” explained Northwest cross country coach George Lutkenhaus. “For a state as large as Texas, we have one of the smallest state meets. It’s a great thing. If you’ve got the room, put them on the line. I’m for anything to give kids a chance to keep advancing and make them better.”
Decatur coach David Park, who took boys and girls teams to state last year, taking second in the 3A girls race, also supported the change that added four teams to bump the field to 16 in each of the six classifications. He said it will change the strategy at the state meet.
“Some people say it will water it down, but I like it,” Park said. “When you get to state, it’ll make that fifth runner even more important. You’ll have more people in the team race, and there will be more room between team’s fourth- and fifth-place runners. We preach to run tight.”
While supporting adding the fourth team, Park did express some reservations about including the top 10 individuals not on advancing teams.
“You could have to go pretty far down the line to get that 10th individual,” Park said.
The state meet is Nov. 9 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.