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MPA cancels 2020 State Cross Country Championships

The MPA says leadership felt it was necessary to cancel based on concerns of the new mask mandate as well as bringing students together from across the state.
Credit: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald
CUMBERLAND, ME - OCTOBER 26: Class B front runners are close as the run in the woods at the Southern Maine regional cross country championships at Twin Brook Recreation Area Saturday October 26, 2019.

BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Principal's Association (MPA) on Monday announced the 2020 Cross Country Championships have been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

The boys title meet was set for Wednesday, Nov. 11, and the girls meet was scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11, at Saxl Park in Bangor. Last week, the MPA had moved the venue due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Waldo County. 

The MPA says leadership felt it was necessary to cancel based on two major concerns:

  1. The concern of bringing students together from all parts of Maine through state-wide travel as we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine.
  2. The new mask mandate for student-athletes to wear masks throughout the competition. Many cross country runners have not been acclimatized to wearing the mask while competing in a high stakes race since the mandate took place last Friday. This is a concern for the health and safety of the student-athletes.

"Please know that this was not a decision that was taken lightly," the MPA said in a release Monday. 

Cross country is designated as a "lower risk" sport in the State's COVID-19 checklist for community sports, which was recently updated ahead of the winter sports season. The checklist,  written in close collaboration with public health experts, outlines health and safety protocols for community sports activities to comply with in order to occur safely. 

But the MPA says they received "a great deal" of feedback from school coaches and administrators regarding the cross country meet, which led to the decision to cancel.