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Cross-country runners get shut out of course because of government shutdown

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas Cross-country runners at all El Paso school districts are gearing up for one of the most important races of the season, but coordinators said the government shutdown has created a huge roadblock.

For the past 10 years, cross-country runners have come to Chamizal National Park for district championships.

"The top teams that qualify there will get to go to regionals. Then, of course, the qualifiers from regionals get to go to state," said Maria Kennedy, assistant athletic director at El Paso Independent School District.

This year, however, because of the government shutdown, things are a little different.

"With the government being shut down, so are the parks," said Kennedy.

Athletic directors didn't jump to make alternate plans two weeks ago when the shutdown was first announced, hoping it would be lifted by now. But that's not the case. So Tuesday, athletic directors from all districts came together to figure out a plan.

"We've decided we're going to be out at the Horizon Golf and Conference Center," said Kennedy.

It's a decision that didn't take long to reach.

"We would love to use the parks and rec, but they're just not conducive to the number of kids and the area that we need. I mean, you're talking about in one race 60 kids," said Kennedy.

While athletic directors said the Horizon golf course will be a little more challenging for runners than the course at Chamizal National Park, Kennedy said it will actually be beneficial to students.

"It's going to be more equivalent to the regional meet and the state meet, so that's a good thing," said Kennedy.
With a few days to race day, Kennedy said regardless of the government's status, the meet will remain at the Horizon golf course.

Kennedy said the new location is just temporary, though. Come next year, she said students will be back on their normal turf.
 

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