Charleston, which held a three-team meet last week, will host a larger event on Saturday similar to the format that would be used for an unofficial state cross country meet.

Charleston Middle School coach John McInerney seemed optimistic last week that a state cross country meet would take place in Illinois.

He had heard rumors, he said during last Thursday’s tri-meet at EIU, that a group out of Peoria had been working on the idea.

Few people are as engaged in state running as McInerney, the longtime cross country coach at EIU and Charleston High – and the person who created the program at Charleston Middle. So it’s no surprise that the concept is closer to reality.

A running race management company appears to be planning an unofficial state cross country championships in early November, per a report in the Champaign News-Gazette.

High school runners would compete by invitation on either Nov. 1, 7, or 8, according to the News-Gazette, at an open field in Chillicothe, about 20 miles north of Peoria. A middle school meet would be scheduled for Oct. 31.

The IHSA and IESA won’t be holding state championships for fall sports, or, likely for winter sports either, because of health risks related to COVID-19. The IESA cross country season ends at the sectional level the week of Oct. 10-17.

Shazam Racing and MileSplit Illinois have apparently partnered to create this event, which takes place about two weeks after regional cross country championships across the state.

“If we have the capacity and the appetite to provide a state championship type event, then we have an obligation to do so,” Adam White, of Shazam Racing and RC Outfitters, told the Peoria Journal Star. “We want to create an event that offers closure to what will be an unorthodox fall of cross country racing.”

The state format might emulate the one being used for Saturday’s CHS Invitational at EIU, where several smaller races featuring teams’ Nos. 1-7 runners will replace the traditional single race for all. Both the CHS and state races will have four races for each gender, although the state meet will feature the Nos. 1 by themselves.

You can read more details about the race in the News-Gazette story and from the press release here.