In 1986, a group of Kettering cross-country coaches, officials, and running aficionados thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have an All-Star meet where the best cross country runners in their state could compete?”
Those behind that thought were: Craig Whitmore, Bob Karl and especially Neal Charske. Now the main sponsor is the Ohio Association of Track and Cross-Country Coaches. Neal Charske is still the meet director; Bob Karl is still the “voice” of Mid-East.
At the very first race of the Mid-East Cross-Country Championships, Ohio’s own future collegiate All American, NCAA champion and Olympian, Bob Kennedy and future collegiate All American, NCAA Nationals participant and Olympic trials qualifier, Lori Gomez would be the individual champions on a cold, snowy course.
From that first vision, competition has grown and expanded as the competitors have come and gone. Over the years, the finest high school seniors from seven states have competed in this race. At one time or another, we have had the top state finishers from: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The name Mid-East is a compilation from those states – the “Mid” comes from the Midwestern Division states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. The “East” comes from the Eastern Division states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
You are a senior in high school only once! The Mid-East Cross-Country Championships is truly a once-in-a-lifetime race. It is exclusively for high school senior boys and girls. The state coaches are named by the individual states. Some coaches change every year, some may remain the same for several years, but the competitors are different every single year. Some states have a selection committee and an invitation goes out to the athletes to assemble a team. One state actually has to have a race to determine their team members for this event.
As you can see, many of our competitors at the Mid-East have gone on to run in other National Prep Meets, in the NCAA National Meets for their respective colleges and a few have competed with the best in the world at the Olympics. Some have become coaches and now bring their athletes to run in this event. We even know of one couple who met and competed at Mid-East their senior year, stayed in touch and eventually got married!
This event is focused on the athlete. Friday includes a meeting for the coaches and teammates, pre-running the course, team-bonding games, dinner, and staying at the same host hotel. On Saturday’s event at the course, you will see the park decorated with signs, many banners and hear music playing – all to get you pumped up for your race. After the races an Awards Banquet serving 300-400 people is within walking distance from the park. The teams sit together and everyone receives an award. Then it is good-bye to your former rivals who are now your new friends.
Because of the high caliber of the athletes, we haven’t forgotten the parents, grandparents, support systems, or spectators either. The partly wooded/partly open areas of the course are very spectator-friendly. There are some paved paths for handicapped accessibility for spectators to watch and cheer the competitors as they run past them two or three times. The top of the hill gives you a good panoramic view of the runners for the first mile and a half. Spectators can line both sides of the course as the runners come charging into the Finish Line. You will have a chance to see forty-eight top quality “seniors only” cross-country athletes, from four states, go at it head-to-head in each race. The top five score, as is the case in most traditional races, but to make it a true event where all runners matter – the next seven runners act as displacers. Team depth can make or break a team score!
The Mid-East planning committee is made up of all volunteer, current and former athletes, coaches, state officials and parents of former runners whose goal is to put on a very efficient, well-run event. It is an honor for us to host this exceptional cross-country race.
We hope to see YOU at future Mid-East Championships on every third Saturday in November! -AFG