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Three bidders for state cross country finals

Posted Jun 1, 2012 by Bill Ward

Updated Jun 1, 2012 at 09:28 PM

The Florida High School Athletics Association has received a total of three bids for the 2012 state cross country championships and expects to announce a winner by the end of the month, FHSAA director of athletics Shanell Young told the Tampa Tribune.

The three candidates are Tallahassee’s Apalachee Regional Park, Windy Hill Farms in Alachua, just north of Gainesville, and, yes the Daytona International Speedway. Young said the FHSAA plans to grade the three sites over the next two weeks.

Apalachee Regional Park features outstanding wooded trails already in use by Tallahassee-area runners and cross country teams, including Florida State, which uses it for its home course at the FSU Invitational. Apalachee was recently selected to be the site of the 2012 NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championships, with the Seminoles serving as hosts. Apalachee is what you would expect from a park in North Florida—canopies of oak trees, compact running paths and some challenging hills.

Windy Hill Farms in Alachua features loads of space—800 acres of it—in a more open setting. According to former FHSAA state cross country finals announce Ricky Quintana of Gainesville, the course being considered has some challenging hills but enough room at the start to starting line for each squad to start several runners abreast. This bid is being submitted by the Gainesville Sports Commission, which has lots of experience staging events, like the state track championships at the University of Florida.

And then there’s Daytona International Speedway. Like the Michigan State finals, which are held at the Michigan International Speedway, the infield of DIS is expected to be used for much of the course—not the asphalt track the cars race on. Dirt could be brought in to link grassy areas between asphalt sections.

The FHSAA is expected to decide the winner of these three bids later this summer. As with most bids in other sports, it often comes down to not only who has the best venue for the athletes, coaches and spectators, but who offers the greatest financial incentive in the contract with the FHSAA.

The state meet was suppose to be held at Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City one more year this fall, but the after staging the event there since 2005, the FHSAA announced in February the venue’s foundation had been granted a release from its final year as the meet’s contracted host.

Photos: (top) A running trail in the Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, (middle) the proposed Windy Hill Farms site in Alachua, north of Gainesville, and (bottom) a view of the grandstands as seen from the infield of the Daytona International Speedway. Photos by Ricky Quintana and Herb Wills.

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