In 2020, the more things seem to change, the more they definitely do.
In two significant modifications in the past two weeks, the annual Red, White & Blue Classic moved out of the city of Pittsburgh and then one week later into the fall season. The 18th annual gathering of many of the top distance runners and teams from western Pennsylvania also now will open on a Friday and conclude on a Saturday, Sept. 18-19.
To accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols, the meet was moved from Schenley Park to White Oak Park, an Allegheny County park that is southeast of the meet's only home thus far. Season schedule changes announced today (July 31) by the WPIAL resulted in the date change.
Currently, the meet schedule kicks off with the Class A races at 5 p.m. Sept. 18, with the AA races opening the second day at 8:30 a.m. and the AAA events beginning at noon. Meet director Rich Wright said JV races will be contested as needed, with a freshman race scheduled due to the "traditional amount of AAA teams."
In an e-mail today to coaches, Wright advised, "Please don't drop a meet you had scheduled for these dates. We will be complying with all PIAA, WPIAL, and Allegheny County rules and regulations. ...Keep in mind our goal is to run a safe and careful event."
He also noted that no out-of-state schools will be permitted to run in the 2020 invitational.
In last year's AAA boys race, a pair of West Virginia runners cracked the top 7 overall, while powerhouse Morgantown placed a trio - including two underclassmen - in the top 5 overall in the AAA girls race with a fourth Mountain state runner in the top 12 overall.
The meet's course for 2020 is a double-loop, all-grass layout home to Serra Catholic's XC teams.
As a result of an executive session meeting on Thursday, WPIAL directors adjusted the start times for fall seasons, with XC's first scrimmage date for District 7 moving from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29 and the first play date from Sept. 4 to Sept. 14. The official opening of practice was unchanged at Aug. 17.
The WPIAL also stated "teams should strictly adhere to the schools' Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA's Return to Competition guidelines for cross country," with a maximum of 12 meets now allowed. The District 7 championships will be modified to comply with all state regulations as well as PIAA's guidelines, district officials said.
"Our main concern is to provide a great and safe race," Wright stated in his first e-mail announcing the new meet site. "All schools will need to have their athletes tested as per your school district policy before boarding the bus and coming to the race. We will continue to update these rules as more information is provided."
No spectators will be permitted at the meet.