The NSAF regrets to announce that the 2015 Great American Cross Country Festival and HBCU Challenge has been cancelled.
"The safety of the athletes is paramount," said Meet and NSAF Executive Director Jim Spier. "It became increasingly clear that the forecast for the next few days is dire. The Governor declared a State of Emergency this afternoon and we had to cancel.
"We will be happy to credit any entry fees which have been paid towards the 2016 HBCU Challenge," he added.
The weather system that prompted the cancellation is not directly related to Hurricane Joaquin, which was updated to Category 4 earlier today and may possibly strike the North Carolina coast (or other Atlantic Coast states) Sunday or beyond.
The defending champs from North Carolina A&T State (men) and Alabama State (women) were entered again this year, as were 2014 runner-ups Hampton University (women) and Morehouse College (men).
The NSAF is sorry the event can't be held this weekend, but wish for the safety of everyone in the NSAF/GACC/HBCU family -- athletes, coaches, families, fans and meet officials -- in getting through the weather of this weekend and during the hurricane looming ahead. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next GACC Festival and HBCU Challenge in 2016!
The NSAF has tremendous gratitude towards and appreciation for some of those who have been driving forces behind getting this event started and sustaining it:
The 2013 Challenge was special two years ago as we honored Mr. Walker (mentioned above, who passed in March, 2013) for his years of service to the Challenge, the Foundation and to our sport in general. The women’s race that year also included a guest competitor that drew much attention: 1984 Olympian and former 5,000-meter world record holder (on the track) Zola Budd-Pieterse, the native South African who now lives in South Carolina. She showed she was still an outstanding runner at age 47 with a 17:47.0 5k. Budd-Pieterse just (Sept. 2015) accepted a coaching position at Coastal Carolina University.
As mentioned above, the Alabama State women won their Challenge debut last year behind record-setting Paige Rankin, while the North Carolina A&T State men defended their 2013 title in a close battle with Morehouse College.
Rankin, a junior, ran 17:53.0 to beat Aurora Scott’s 2009 mark by more than 30 seconds to pace a 1-2-3 finish by the Hornet women, as they scored 24 points and dominated the field. Rankin was followed by teammates Artralia LeSane (18:03.7) and Shanita Wilson (18:57.0). Four-time defending champ Hampton U. had to settle for 2nd this time with 78 points, led by 4th-place finisher Ce’aira Brown at 19:07.9. Following in the 17-team battle were Coker (S.C.) College in 3rd with 170, Benedict (S.C.) College at 172, Winston-Salem State U. at 180 and NC A&T at 186.
In the men’s race, the defending champion Aggies tallied 39 points to edge Morehouse College by six. The Atlanta school was running the Challenge for the first time since 2009. Darren White (26:01.3) and Saeed Jones (26:21.7) led the winners with 2nd- and 4th-place finishes, while Dahir Mohamed paced Morehouse in 3rd with 26:08.7. Taking the individual title in his first Challenge appearance was Dessie Demlew of Benedict College, as he clocked 25:39.8 to triumph by more than 20 seconds. In the team battle, the 3rd- and 4th-place spots went to Virginia Union (73) and Alabama State (117).