IHSAA eliminates cross country semistate round

Jan. 13—INDIANAPOLIS — In its first meeting of the new calendar year, the Indiana High School Athletic Association's executive committee voted to change the boys and girls cross country state tournaments from a four-week format to a three-week format.

Thursday's decision was one of three rules proposals acted upon after being formally presented last month by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.

By an 11-6 vote, next fall's state tournaments will be contested on three consecutive Saturdays and begin one week later than previously scheduled. Next season's sectionals will now be on Oct. 14, regionals on Oct. 21 and the state finals on the same previously scheduled date of Oct. 28.

Since 2014, the cross country tournaments had been run on four consecutive Saturdays with sectionals, regionals, semi-states and state finals. The new format calls for 25 sectionals and five regionals feeding into the state finals while eliminating the semi-state round. The top five teams and top 15 individuals not on a qualifying team will advance from each round to the next.

There will be seven fewer sectionals than the previous 32, and 16 regionals and four semi-states are now condensed into five regional sites. Rather than 160 teams and 320 individuals not with advancing teams qualifying for regionals as in the past, there will be 125 teams and 250 individual runners at the regional round vying to be among the final 25 teams and 50 individuals at the state finals.

That will result in an increase of one team and 10 individuals eligible for the state finals.

Host sites and sectional assignments will be announced this summer.

"Today was a culmination of several years of discussion around issues within the cross country tournaments," commissioner Paul Neidig said in an IHSAA release. "The three-week tournament will provide more balance at the sectional level, resulting in a more competitive state tournament. The new format will advance 42 additional runners in each race at the state finals. We greatly appreciate the partnership with the state coaches association in developing this new format."

Two other proposals from the coaches association were unanimously approved including awarding medals to the top 25 finishers in both state meets and creating a common track entry platform that all meets must use throughout the season.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.