Niles cross country opens season Aug. 20 with Viking Stampede

NILES — The Niles cross country team will return to its home course at Madeline Bertrand Park to host the Viking Stampede Aug. 20.

Niles was forced to move last year’s stampede to its former home course at the Dowagiac Middle School due to COVID-19 guidelines. Several portions of the race course did not allow for proper distancing.

Another change from last year is that the meet will begin at 10 a.m. instead of late afternoon. The change was made to help with any extreme heat that may come the day of the race.

Expected to participate in the stampede are Battle Creek Harper Creek, Paw Paw, Edwardsburg and Plainwell. The girls will compete in the first race at 10 a.m., while the boys will begin their race at approximately 10:48 a.m.

Admission is $5 per car.

Niles finished sixth in both the boys and girls races in 2020. Harper Creek took home the boy’s championship, while Marshall captured the girl’s title.

Niles boys coach Tony Todd is looking forward to seeing his team compete on a more traditional course.

“Well, our course is challenging to say the least,” he said. “It’s more old school. Now a days, cross is almost track on grass with all the flat, fast courses. Ours is not.”

Niles girls Coach Jamie Roden is also looking forward to kicking off the season.

“We are excited to be back on our home course at Madeline Bertrand Park, as we couldn’t run on the course last year,” she said. “We love that our course offers a true cross country race feeling because the runners are in the woods on trails for most of the race.”

Roden said there are some good teams that will compete next Saturday.

“There will be four quality teams at our meet, and we can’t wait to see how our girls compare to other teams,” she said. “The outcome will give us an idea on how we will compete in the Wolverine Conference this year.”

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