In the first major blow to this fall’s high school cross country schedule, the Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational, set for October, has been cancelled due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, Manhattan College announced Monday morning.
The meet, which typically features a strong Long Island contingent, is held annually at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and is considered to be one of the premier events of the high school regular season.
"Our greatest concern is always the health and safety of all the competitors and families who attend this event each year," Manhattan College cross country and track and field program director Matt Centrowitz said in a news release posted on the school’s website. “Despite how much we all want to host this year's race, there are too many unknowns right now. While this decision is difficult, it is without a doubt in the best interest of all involved."
Founded in 1972, the meet is the largest one-day cross country event in the nation with 10,000 runners and 300 teams competing. In place of a physical meet, Manhattan college will hold a virtual event, open to all competitors, coaches, families and fans, the release said.
Long Islanders typically have success at this meet. St. Anthony’s Mason Gatewood, who now runs for the University of Pennsylvania, won the 4-kilometer boys Eastern States Championship in 12 minutes, 17.4 seconds in 2017.
Meet organizers are planning for the invitational to return to Van Cortlandt Park on October 9, 2021, the release said.
The news marks the second cancellation of a high-profile high school running event in the last three weeks. New Balance Outdoor Nationals, which was originally scheduled for mid-June in North Carolina before being tentatively moved to July 30-Aug.2 in South Dakota, was officially canceled on June 16 due to concerns over the pandemic.