By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002
TAMPA -- When the county canceled Western Conference championships in every sport last spring, most cross-country coaches were pleased, and yet, not completely.
The coaches didn't like the conference's format of staging qualifying divisional meets a few days before the conference meet. Many thought that format was too cumbersome and demanding for a solid race-training schedule.
Most coaches, however, missed the idea of having one local race involving all area teams: A Tampa Bay Championship, if you will.
Bob Ennis, coaching legend and organizer of the state cross-country meet at Ed Radice Park, finalized a solution at a meeting Wednesday night.
Ennis, with the backing of several of the top area coaches, has pushed forward a meet called The Bay Cup, which will be among the races held at the pre-state meet Oct.19.
The Bay Cup will include all Hillsborough and Pinellas county schools that aren't participating in the extremely competitive open and elite races at the pre-state meet.
"What this allows is a chance for some of the kids and coaches who have never traveled to a big meet to feel the atmosphere and excitement of a state meet," Ennis said. "I think the fallout of this is increased interest across the board for local cross country.
"Ultimately, this will pull everybody up. It gives everybody a boost of interest."
With the addition of the Bay Cup races for boys and girls, there will be eight races, including a girls and boys junior varsity race, at the pre-state meet.
The first race begins at 5p.m. and the last one at 9:10.
All the pre-state races, including the Bay Cup, will use the electronic chip (tied to each runner's shoe) used for placing runners at the Gasparilla Distance Classic.