Under The Lights Cross Country Meet Set for Palmer Park – Over 30 Schools Expected to Participate – The Madison Record
MADISON- Lights will shine on more than 500 high school athletes at the annual Under The Lights Cross Country Festival taking place Oct. 8 at Madison’s Palmer Park. Over 30 schools will have runners at the start of the 5K course with all the action under the lights with the first race set to get the starting gun at 6:30 p.m. and the last time at 8:00 p.m. Sunset is set for 6:30 p.m.
“There’s nothing quite like running in the spotlight in our sport,” said Drew Bell, head coach of the James Clemens Jets, the host team for the cross-country event. “It’s the same atmosphere that footballers experience on the pitch every Friday evening under the floodlights.”
Temporary lights will be installed throughout the course for a competition that promises to be fierce. The course has been manicured over the past two months as each hole has been filled with gravel and clay, tree branches have been cut so as not to be a problem for any of the runners, and the Madison Recreation Department mowed the course at a nice low height to allow the athletes to showcase their best efforts.
Portable light towers and ball diamond lights near Palmer Park will provide athletes with the experience of running on a lighted course, which for many will be a new adventure in cross-country running. The course is composed mainly of grass and dirt paths. Spiked running shoes are recommended.
“All areas of the course will be lit. The course is very well maintained and we are doing everything we can to make this event a great one for all athletes and spectators,” added Bell.
The top three seeded men’s teams in the event start with host James Clemens Jets. The team is followed by Green Hill and Father Ryan, both from Tennessee. In the women’s competition, host Lady Jets is seeded, followed again by Green Hill and father Ryan.
The 31 schools expected to register to participate include area schools: Alabama School of Cyber Technolo in Huntsville, Buckhorn, East Limestone, Grissom, Hazel Green, Madison Academy and Athens.
For the host Jets, they have five runners ranked in the top 10 from the more than 300 entrants in the boys division. Bell said of his men’s team: “We’re still running great at home in Palmer Park. We are proud of our journey and the tremendous support we receive from Madison.
On the girls side, Bell said, “I expect all of our girls to do their best. We have five of our girls ranked in the top 15 of the competition.
Each school can decide which 10 of its runners will participate in the boys’ and girls’ varsity race. The other runners will participate in the junior varsity 5 km race. Schools will be placed in the small school (1-4A) or large school (5-7A) divisions. Team plaques will be awarded to the top three teams in each division. The top 15 individual finalists will receive “Elite Runner” T-shirts.
Spectators will need to purchase tickets to park at Palmer Park in Gofan.