Pat Montferrat 0

Petition to Add Wild Card Qualifiers to XC Meet of Champions

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To: Don Danser and the NJSIAA Cross-Country Cross-Country Committee:
The New Jersey State Meet of Champions is rightfully considered one of the top state meets in the country and continues to provide a wonderful end to the state cross-country season.
It's ability to allow a fair representation of all six groups, public and non-public, and still identify the top teams and runners in the state is unquestioned. That's why the continued advancement of three teams and 10 individuals from each group should continue unchanged.
The 10 individual wild card selection is also appropriate and needs no amendment. But an extension of the team wild cards from two to four teams would only enhance the reputation of the meet.
(Non-Public B and Group 1 schools have averaged between 22% and 26% of the number of full teams in the boys meet in a study of the 2005 to 2014 seasons and between 19% and 25% of the full teams in the girls meet for the same time period, but those schools get 30% of the team qualifiers to the Meet of Champions while providing just one team combined (out of 60 qualifiers) who has reached the stage (top six teams). In fact, no boys 1 or B team has finished higher than 12th during that time (although I suspect that may have changed with Haddon Township last Saturday). Only five of 60 girls teams have cracked the top 10.)
By contrast, 8 of the 18 girls wild card teams since 2005 have reached the stage and only four of the 18 girls teams have been out of the top 10 during that time. The boys have advanced five of 18 to the stage and each of the 18 boys wild cards have finished 11th or better in the Meet of Champions. (Not including 2014).
And these extra wild cards would NOT just be two more Group 4 teams in each race (even though 18 of the 20 boys wild cards and 16 of the 20 girls wild cards have been Group 4 schools).
If the current wild card configuration was extended from two to more teams, just 13 of 20 boys additions and 15 girls additions would be group 4 schools, with other entries coming from group 2, group 3 and Non-public A schools.
Adding two wild cards in each race would add four more quality teams and it's likely provide multiple top 10 and "stage" teams over the coming years.
This would add up to 14 more runners at the start and we know that is a concern. However, with field sizes varying from 173 to 188 runners over the last 10 years, an additional 14 runners should not be a problem.
The 2014 Shore Coaches Invitational had five VARSITY races with between 192 and 221 runners each with no problems.

If the starting line is not wide enough to accommodate all the runners on one line, then the Meet of Champions should follow the lead of most other large cross-country races from Maine to California and place three or four runners on the front line with the rest of the team behind. It works smoothly everywhere else in the country with no problems.
The New Jersey State Meet of Champions is a premier event that should allow both opportunity for schools large and small to qualify. The addition of two more wild cards per race would also increase the opportunity for the best teams to toe the line each year.

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