By MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001
TAMPA -- The state's largest cross country meet was canceled due to Tuesday's tragedy, and Hillsborough County athletic director Vernon Korhn said Monday afternoon will serve as the makeup date for Friday's postponed football games.
University of South Florida and Jesuit High officials finally got the chance to meet Friday morning and officially cancel Saturday's USF/Jesuit Cross Country Invitational at Ed Radice Park.
Jesuit coach Mike Boza said the meet could have survived the tropical weather that battered the bay area Friday. But none of the organizers wanted to continue in the wake of Tuesday's tragedies in New York and Washington, D.C.
"Both administrations agreed to join together with the rest of the sports community and cancel the meet," Boza said.
"It looked like the weather would pass, but I think it's the right thing to do. We don't want to come off as being disrespectful. It was unanimous."
The meet was expected to draw 160 boys and girls teams and close to 2,000 competitors.
The fact it was to have been run on the state championship course attracted teams from all over the state and would have given coaches a chance to see where their teams stand compared to the top competition in their classifications.
Plant girls coach Roy Harrison said he was looking forward to pitting his No. 2-ranked team against the top five teams in Class 3A, all of which were expected to compete before Friday's decision.
Boza said the first task after calling the meet was to get that information to the schools.
Within minutes, there was a posting on www.flrunners.com notifying coaches.
And Boza said he and USF cross country coach Greg Thiel and his staff were starting to get phone numbers off of entry forms and making calls to schools.
That job was made easier by several cancellations Thursday, mostly from schools in the northern portion of the state, fearing Tropical Storm Gabrielle.
"I had five or six teams officially cancel with me (Thursday), and Greg (Thiel) said several called him to do the same," Boza said.
"Officially, I would guess about a dozen canceled. Unofficially, who knows? I'd say for every one that called, there are maybe two or three more who didn't but weren't going to come."
While Boza and company were canceling the race, Korhn was rearranging a schedule that saw 11 games postponed Friday night.
Three of those games -- Alonso at Wharton, Plant at Armwood and King at Leto -- will be played at 3 p.m. Monday. Seven more -- Blake at Robinson, Bloomingdale at Tampa Bay Tech, Brandon at Sickles, Chamberlain at Gaither, Durant at Lakeland, Haines City at East Bay and Riverview at Plant City -- will start at 4 p.m.
The Hillsborough-Clearwater starting time will be left up to the Pinellas County officials and has not been determined.
Nor has Jesuit's game at Bradenton Southeast, which will be set by Manatee County officials. Korhn said several factors went into the decision to play Monday.
First, because this was the first week of district play, the games would have had to be made up during the season.
Second, the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana begins at sundown Monday. "That's why we're playing in the afternoon," Korhn said. "Since these are district games, we won't really have the chance to play them during the rest of the season.
"If we did, it would be a situation where they would have to play Friday, Monday and then Friday again. Here, it's just Monday, Friday."