WADSWORTH — What once was an area staple for Medina County cross country teams now is just a distant memory.
Directors of the Medina County Meet decided Thursday to cancel this year’s meet for financial reasons, ending a 33-year run for the invitational.
The meet, which was scheduled for Aug. 28 at Memorial Park, had been losing teams over the past three years. It started with schools like Black River and Buckeye opting to go to other meets to open the season.
Cloverleaf joined the list deciding to run in a different meet.
The four remaining schools – Brunswick, Highland, Medina and host Wadsworth – couldn’t handle the financial burden.
“Last year we noticed that we were in financial straights with it,” Grizzlies coach Michelle Farr said. “With the costs needed for officials, EMS personnel and other things, we were losing money and with Cloverleaf not coming, we had to make a change.”
Enter former Wadsworth coach Dave Parry and a silver lining of sorts was found.
Parry, now the coach at Revere, had started the Revere Cross Country Invitational two years ago to create a meet for Summit County squads similar to one that lasted over three decades in Medina County.
When hearing about the state of the Medina County Meet, Parry contacted Farr and came up with an idea to pit the two counties against one another in Revere’s meet, which is scheduled for the same date.
The two agreed and the new meet is expected to field three teams – a Medina County one, a Summit County unit and an “others” team that will be made up of schools from Cuyahoga, Stark and Wayne counties.
“It’s an idea that (Wadsworth athletic director) Rich Berlin actually brought up at the meet last year,” Farr said. “So after Cloverleaf dropped out, I began to think about it. All of the runners will have their individual school colors and uniforms on, but all the scoring will be done together.”
Brunswick, Wadsworth, along with Highland’s girls and Medina’s boys have already agreed on attending the meet, while Highland’s boys and Medina’s girls are expected to join, but haven’t as of Thursday evening. The always-strong Medina boys squad plans on bringing their top runners after fielding a “B” team for the county meet during the past couple of seasons, due to the event running on the same Saturday as the Hilliard Invitational.
Farr is hopeful that the other three county schools might be interested in coming, but most have already signed contracts with various meets for that weekend. Black River and Buckeye are scheduled to run in the New London Invitational, while Cloverleaf is participating in the Lexington Invitational.
Along with host Revere, squads from Hudson, Stow, Twinsburg, Firestone, Ellet and Garfield are all scheduled to attend while state powerhouse Woodridge is still on the fence about joining, according to Farr. Uniontown Lake and Strongsville are the notable squads for the “others” team.
“It’s going to be cool to see everyone join up with each other for the first meet,” Farr said. “The kids will hopefully build friendships with each other and that should provide a lot of support after that. It benefits the kids.”
It, however, is a bittersweet day for Farr — a 1990 graduate of Buckeye — to see the longstanding county event end.
“I loved it, because it was my only chance to run against Division I girls and I liked that chance to see how I would rank,” said Farr, who won the county meet as a sophomore and junior. “I loved that aspect of it and the nice hometown feel to the meet.
“I still think we will get that by joining forces. Everyone’s excited about it.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.