Viking Stampede moved to Dowagiac

NILES — There will be many changes when it comes to fall sports in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the first has been some of the area cross country teams are having to redesign their courses or move to another course. The recently released Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines for competition limits participation to 70 runners per race.

That means large invitationals are being canceled left and right.

Fortunately, the annual Viking Stampede, scheduled for Aug. 21, is not one of them according to Niles Athletic Director Jeff Upton.

Upton announced Wednesday that the stampede would be moved to Dowagiac and run on the Chieftains’ home course, which the Vikings used to use for many years before getting their own course at Madeline Bertrand Park. That facility is too narrow for Niles to use this season under the current guidelines.

“MHSAA regulations require no repetition of the course and a minimum distance of 6 feet width in all areas of the course,” Upton said. “Madeline Bertrand Park is a fantastic cross course, but it does repeat, and there are many sections of the course that are less than six feet wide. For this year’s event, we had to relocate to the Southwestern Michigan College/Dowagiac Middle School course. We are anticipating our return to Madeline Bertrand Park for next year’s event.”

Due to the regulation of only 70 runners per race, each of the six schools that are currently planning on participating will be limited to 14 runners.

“With COVID regulations this year, we are just trying to have events, so rather than cancel we anticipate our schools will participate,” Upton said. “We will have many protocols in place, and as our state of Michigan rules currently are written and enforced, unfortunately, no spectators will be allowed.”

The Niles event is one of the earliest cross country invitational in the state. Upton would like to share what they learn with others.

“Our Viking Stampede will be one of the first events of the season, so we are hoping to run the meet, have many protocols in place, and then discuss with the MHSAA and other hosts the results and recommendations moving forward,” he said.

Currently, Battle Creek Harper Creek, Plainwell, Sturgis, Lakeshore and Paw Paw will compete against the Vikings.

 

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