There is great news for cross country fans. The Hereford Invitational ended its 20-year run last fall, but Harford Community College has stepped forward to provide the site for a worthy successor. The new event is dubbed the Harford County Invitational.
"We're looking to have 200 teams from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and D.C.," said race founder Jim Otte, former cross country coach at Calvert Hall and now an attorney in Bel Air. "When I read that Hereford was ending its meet, I decided someone ought to take over. When I approached Don Dean [Harford CC's athletic director], he was very cooperative."
Otte has planned some innovations for the Oct. 12 event.
"We'll have a seeded race and teams can enter their elite runner or their entire team in the seeded race," said Otte. "That way, the top runners will have the opportunity to meet each other head-to-head.
"We also have a commitment from Olympian Peter Rono, the 1988 gold medalist in the 1,500, and a probable commitment from Vicki Huber, the NCAA cross country champion. They'll be there to speak, present awards and meet the athletes."
Otte said that assistance in supervising the meet will come from Harford CC, the Baltimore Road Runners, and RASAC. Runner's World magazine will help with funds and awards. Otte already has secured NCAA sanctioning and received a big boost when Annapolis athletic director Fred Stauffer agreed to move the Annapolis Invitational to the first weekend in October to accommodate the new race.
* Hats off to McCormick Unsung Heroes award winners, David Turner of Southwestern and Tara O'Neal of Owings Mills. They plan to put their scholarship grants, valued at $3,000 per year over four years, to good use. Turner will attend Maryland next fall and major in engineering. O'Neal will major in mathematics at Moravian College.
* Take your pick for tomorrow's MSA A Conference lacrosse showdowns: St. Mary's is at Loyola (3:45) and St. Paul's visits Calvert Hall (3:45). Loyola has lost two straight, but can win Division I and gain top seed for the postseason tournament. It's opponent then would be the winner of the St. Paul's-Calvert Hall contest. Both are 5-4 in Division II behind Boys' Latin (7-2).