Under The Lights Cross Country Meet Set For Palmer Park- Over 30 Schools Expected To Participate
MADISON- The lights will shine bright on more than 500 high school athletes at the annual Under The Lights Cross Country Festival set for Oct. 8 at Madison’s Palmer Park. More than 30 schools will have runners take to the start of the 5K course with all action under the lights with the first race set to get the start gun at 6:30 p.m. and the last schedule start at 8:00 p.m. Sunset is set for 6:30 p.m.
“There’s nothing that compares to running under the lights in our sport,” said Drew Bell head coach of the James Clemens Jets, host team for the cross country event. “It is the same atmosphere that football players experience on the field every Friday night under the lights.”
Temporary lights will be set up all along the course for what is expected to be fierce competition. The course has been groomed the past couple of months as every hole has been filled with gravel and clay, tree limbs have been cut away so not be an issue for any of the runners, and the Madison Recreation Dept. has mowed the course at a nice low height to allow the athletes to present their best efforts.
Portable light towers and lights from nearby ball fields within Palmer Park will present the athletes with the experience of running on a lighted course, which for many will be a new venture in cross country running. The course is made up of mostly grass and dirt trails. Spiked running shoes are recommended.
“All areas of the course will be under lights. The course is very well maintained, and we are doing everything possible to be sure this event is great for all athletes and spectators,” added Bell.
The top three seeded boys teams in the event begin with the host James Clemens Jets. The squad is followed by Green Hill and Father Ryan both from Tennessee. In the girl’s competition, the host Lady Jets are listed at the top seed followed again by both Green Hill and Father Ryan.
The expected 31 schools registered to participate include area schools: Alabama School of Cyber Technolo of Huntsville, Buckhorn, East Limestone, Grissom, Hazel Green, Madison Academy and Athens.
For the host Jets, they have five runners seeded in the top 10 among the 300-plus participants in the boys division. Bell said of his boys team, “We always run great at home at Palmer Park. We take pride in our course and the tremendous support we receive from Madison.”
In girls, Bell stated, “I expect all our girls will run their personal best. We have five of our girls seeded among the top 15 in the meet.”
Each school can decide which 10 of its runners to enter in the varsity race in both boys and girls. The remaining runners will partake in the junior varsity 5K race. Schools will be placed in small school (1-4A) or large school (5-7A) divisions. Team plaques will be awarded to the top three teams in each division. The top 15 individual finishers will receive “Elite Runner” T-shirts.
Spectators will have to purchase tickets to park at Palmer Park at Gofan.