RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Nearly 1,400 runners representing 79 schools in eight divisions will converge on the campus of the University of Rio Grande this weekend for the 2012 Patty Forgey Invitational cross country meet.
Ten colleges, 32 junior high/middle school teams and 37 high schools will be participating in the event, which is in its 42nd year.
“Aside from the conference championships and anything on the national level, it’s safe to say this is the biggest event on our schedule,” said veteran Rio Grande head coach Bob Willey. “It’s a great way to bring people to our campus and introduce them to the University of Rio Grande. There’s a lot of work that goes into it but, at the same time, it gives our athletes the opportunity to run at home.”
The meet will get underway at 10 a.m. with the women’s college division, with the men’s college division to follow at 10:40 a.m. The junior high girls’ division begins at 11:30 a.m. and precedes the junior high boys’ division race at 12:05 p.m.
The high school portion of the meet is split into two divisions – Red (seeded) and White (unseeded). The girls’ red division begins at 12:40 p.m. and the girls’ white division follows at 1:20 p.m., while the boys’ red division race is set for a 2 p.m. start. The boys’ white division wraps up the day beginning at 2:40 p.m.
The field in the college division includes the host RedStorm, Bluefield College, Campbellsville University, Cumberland University, the University of Pikeville, WVU-Tech, Ohio Valley University, Ohio Christian University, Kentucky Christian University and Salem International University.
Among those competing in the junior high/middle school division are Adena, Athens, Barboursville (W.Va.), Caldwell, Crooksville, Fairfield Union, Fairland, Fairview (Ky.), Federal Hocking, Gallia Academy, George Washington (W.Va.), Horace Mann (W.Va.), Huntington (W.Va.), Hurricane (W.Va.), Magnolia (W.Va.), Manchester, Milton (W.Va.), Nelsonville-York, Peebles, Reedsville Eastern, Rock Hill, Sardinia Eastern, South Webster, Southeastern, St. John’s Central, Stonewall Jackson (W.Va.), Warren, Waterford, Waverly, West Union, Westfall and Winfield (W.Va.).
Fairview (Ky.), Federal Hocking and Reedsville Eastern are entered in the girls’ division only, while George Washington (W.Va.), Magnolia, (W.Va.), Peebles and Waterford will only take part in the boys’ race.
The girls’ high school red division includes Alexander, Athens, Cabell Midland (W.Va.), Capital (W.Va.), Fairland, Fairview (Ky.), Federal Hocking, Hurricane (W.Va.), Rock Hill, Thomas Worthington, Warren, Waterford, Wayne (W.Va.) and Winfield (W.Va.). The white division is comprised of Adena, Belpre, Bethel-Tate, Caldwell, Crooksville, Fairfield Union, Gallia Academy, Ironton, Magnolia (W.Va.), Manchester, Nelsonville-York, Ohio Valley Christian, Reedsville Eastern, Sardinia Eastern, South Webster, Southeastern, Valley, Waverly, West Union and Westfall.
The boys’ high school red division includes Athens, Buffalo (W.Va.), Cabell Midland (W.Va.), Caldwell, Capital (W.Va.), Fairland, Federal Hocking, Manchester, Reedsville Eastern, South Webster, Thomas Worthington, Warren, Waterford, Westfall, and Winfield (W.Va.). The white division is comprised of Adena, Belpre, Bethel-Tate, Crooksville, Fairfield Union, Gallia Academy, Ironton, Magnolia (W.Va.), Nelsonville-York, Peebles, Rock Hill, Sardinia Eastern, Southeastern, Valley, Waverly, West Branch and West Union.
The meet began in 1970 under the direction of then-URG head coach Dean Rhinehart and featured three divisions for high school boys, in addition to a division for men’s college teams. Over the years, the event has grown to include women’s teams in both the high school and college divisions, in addition to the creation of a middle school/junior high division.
“The course has changed a few times, the distance has changed and the number of people involved has changed,” said Willey. “I’d say over the past 10 years we’ve probably had somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 runners – it’s probably one of the largest sporting events in southeastern Ohio. It’s a trip that a lot of schools looked forward to. In the old days, they’d come from Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland – from all over – and sleep in the gym the night before. This race has a lot of tradition. We’ve had some schools who have been with us since the beginning, we try to be organized and we try to hand out some nice awards. We want to leave a good taste in the mouths of everybody who participates and who comes to our campus.”
The event is named in honor of Patty Forgey, a long-time secretary in the URG athletic department and avid supporter of the school’s sports teams, who passed away in August 2010.
“Patty Forgey was the backbone of it all for a long time,” Willey said. “She registered all of the teams by hand, deciphering the handwriting of every coach and did the bib number for each runner by hand. She put a lot of work into the meet.”