A big hammer dropped on Thursday for some of the top high school cross country athletes in the United States.
Officials for the national championship race out of Oregon, one of two national title-races held in December annually, made the decision to cancel Team Cross Country Nationals, held yearly in Portland -- the eight regional events that determine qualifiers in the weeks preceding the title race are also canceled -- after determining, in no certain terms, that fall sports could not be deemed 100-safe by November and December due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While state associations around the country determine the best course of action for the fall, the team championships, one of two major races to end the high school season, was effectively canceled for the first time since it began in 2004 as a team-only race. Individual qualifiers were added in 2012.
Officials with Foot Locker Nationals, also staged for December in California, have not announced a position on that race yet.
This remains a blow for contenders of this year's installment of the team nationls race, one that would have seen a new female champion crowned after the three-year run of North Rockland's Katelyn Tuohy. Last year's race also saw a record-breaking effort from Newbury Park's Nico Young.
In 2014, the race moved from the Portland Meadows Course to where the current iteration is held at Glendoveer Golf Course.
The organization said, "This was not a decision to take lightly, but the health and safety of our athletes, families, fans and employees is our top priority."
The Woodlands High School cross country coach Juris Green, one of the top-recognized coaches in Texas and nationally, said regional directors of races were informed of the decision Thursday morning.
"We are all more motviated than ever for 2021," he said.
Top junior returners on the boys side included Borah's (ID) Nathan Green, Anchorage Christian's (AK) Tristian Merchant, Melissa's (TX) Judson Greer, Southern Regional's (NJ) Jackson Braddock and La Salle Academy's (RI) Jack Mcloughlin.
On the girls side, top returners include Rawlins' (WY) Sydney Thorvaldson, Tully's (NY) Brooke Rauber, Lawrenceville School's (NJ) Charlotte Bednard, Lincoln's (OR) Kate Peters, Saratoga Spring's (NY) Ella Kurto and Denton Guyer's (TX) Brynn Brown -- who was the 10th-best non-senior a year ago, though by many was considered the top threat to be crowned in 2020.
MileSplit will update this story as more reaction comes in from coaches and athletes.