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For the first time, Largo coach Mike Beck said, the county's junior varsity cross country runners won't be permitted to race at the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet today at Taylor Park.
Beck said county athletic director Bob Hosack told him Tuesday the JV runners could not compete. Hosack said the county school board prohibits JV championships and if coaches have been holding them for the past 20 or 30 years, "they have been violating school board policy."
But Beck says JV teams usually run before varsity races and the meet was "unofficial", with no ribbons or medals.
"This has never happened before," he said. "This has always been the finale for the JV teams. They really get fired up for this one. This was big for them."
Palm Harbor coach Darryl Southard agreed.
"It was tough for me today to tell my non-varsity seniors they're not running (today); their season's been over," Southard said. "They've been out practicing the last two weeks for nothing. I never viewed it as a JV championship. ... I was quite shocked."
Beck said he received four calls Tuesday and expected many more as coaches express their anger.
"I don't understand why they're so hot; they're the ones violating the rules," Hosack said.
He added that he was unaware any JV races took place, though he's attended a majority of them.
"But I left after the two races," he said.
That made Beck laugh, since the varsity races are run last.
"Guess that means he's been going and watching the JV races the last 20 years," he said.