The NJSIAA's Executive Committee passed a proposal to cut down the number of teams that qualify for the cross-country Meet of Champions, and increased the number of qualifiers who will advance to the Group Championships and to MOCs, NJSIAA Cross-Country Tournament Director Al Stumpf confirmed on Wednesday.
But the biggest news that came from the meeting in Robbinsville was that team champions will still be crowned at the Meet of Champions. There was a lot of speculation that this proposal would include the elimination of the crowning of team champions and team awards at MOCs.
Since that didn't happen, cross-country is now the only high school sport in New Jersey that will hold a Meet of Champions/Tournament of Champions with team championships at stake. The NJSIAA eliminated all the Tournament of Champions events that had existed in the other sports following the 2021-22 school year.
Changes Going Into Effect This Season
A total of 14 teams will qualify for the Meet of Champions - the first-place team in each Group meet will qualify, in addition to the next eight teams with the fastest total times of their top five runners across all Groups (wild cards). Last year, 20 teams advanced to the M of C- the top 2 teams in each group and 8 wild cards.
The top 10 individuals in each Group meet qualify for the MOC, in addition to the next 30 individuals with the fastest times across all Groups (wild cards) whose teams don't advance. Last year, the top 10 individuals in each Group meet and 10 total wild card individuals advanced to the Meet of Champions.
The number of individual qualifiers who advance from the sectional races to the Group Championships has increased to the top 15 finishers. Last year, the 10 finishers in each sectional race advanced to the Group Championships.
This is not a two year pilot program, these are the NJSIAA cross country procedures moving forward.
Stumpf said he feels the changes that were made, and the ones that weren't made, are in the best interest of the sport.
"A lot of people don't like change, but I really think these changes are good for the sport, and will make for an even more competitive Meet of Champions,'' said Stumpf.
"There will now be a lot of runners who would normally be watching the Meet of Champions who will now have the opportunity to compete, and that's great for the sport moving forward. And I'm very happy that we still have the team championships.''
NJSIAA Sectionals will take place October 29th, Group Championships November 5th, and the Meet of Champions November 12th.