AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Additionally CIF-Southern Section prelims and finals are held on the course in November. Those are the Mt. SAC meets that most CIF-SS teams have the chance to compete at, but Inland Valley and San Gabriel Valley-area schools also had another opportunity. It had been tradition for several leagues to hold league finals there, approximately 10 days before CIF prelims. It provided schools an opportunity to run competitively on the course, leading up to the postseason. It easily could be said area schools had an unfair advantage over out-of-area schools they would face in CIF, by getting extra work on the course. But, it was tradition. Tradition has gone by the wayside in favor of safety for Inland Valley high school cross country fans. It’s amazing how over the years the Mt. San Antonio College cross country course has become an integral part of the area’s athletic fabric. The course has become a living and breathing thing, one that is simultaneously hated and loved by competitors. Most of all, it is respected. There are several high school meets during the year on the course, with the Mt. SAC Invitational next weekend serving as the precursor to the season’s stretch run. It also was a true test to determine league champions and CIF qualifiers. Cross country is not about a flat course around a track; it’s about varied terrain and inclines. Mt. SAC’s course is not flat, and is not for the faint of heart. This year, there will not any league finals on the hallowed course, because the school has deemed it a safety concern to have runners and spectators crossing access roads that lead to classroom buildings during school hours. There also is a football practice field wedged between start and finish lines. “We can’t control the way people drive through,” said Brian Yokoyama, Mt. SAC’s sports information director and assistant cross country coach. “It’s a total safety issue. We can’t close down classes, so the option is to run on a Saturday.” Teams are allowed to run on a Saturday, or after 5 p.m. during the week, but because it is after Daylight Savings Time ends, darkness becomes the new safety issue. CIF prelims this year are Nov. 12, but regular season competition must be completed by Nov. 4, meaning if league finals want to use the course, it would have to be Oct. 29, much earlier than most coaches would like. The course is a great calling card for Mt. SAC’s program for head coach Mike Goff and Yokoyama, so making the course more exclusive is not the goal. “We want people to run our course a lot,” Yokoyama said. “We’re not here to change tradition.” It’s being changed anyway. The less easily changed traditions are the layout of the cross country course and the location of the field house, which combine to create the safety hazard. Those aren’t likely to change any time soon. The pie-in-the-sky idea is to build a ramp over the road for spectators and competitors. That doesn’t seem likely, either. As a result, neither is the policy because the safety concerns likely won’t change. “This is a community college and we want to provide that for our community,” Yokoyama said. “Unfortunately, it’s a very bad safety issue.” This is the era where safety wins out over tradition. Pete Marshall can be reached at (909) 483-9364 or [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!