Nike named new presenting sponsor for Great American CC Festival

by Steve Underwood

The National Scholastic Athletic Foundation has announced that NIKE is the new presenting sponsor of the Great American Cross Country Festival, beginning with the upcoming October 1, 2016 event at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

The return of Nike as GACC sponsor (it last sponsored the event in 2009) entails the re-establishment of a direct connection between the GACC and the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) Southeast Regional meet -- including a chance to "pre-qualify" for the latter meet -- plus some exciting new awards, Nike apparel available for purchase and a new meet logo (at right).

"We are extremely pleased to have Nike again as our partner for the Great American Cross Country Festival," said Jim Spier, Executive Director of the NSAF. "And to have it as a Nike Cross Nationals preview event makes the meet even more appealing.  We are looking forward to resuming this event after last year's cancellation, especially with our new title sponsor."

The GACC officially becomes an NXN Southeast Pre-Region meet. WakeMed will host the NXN SE Regional on Nov. 26 -- the opportunity for individuals and teams from Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia to qualify for NXN Nationals (Dec. 3).

The top 10 finishers from the boys' and girls' Nike Race of Champions will all receive "Golden Tickets" -- automatic entry -- into the NXN Southeast meet.  Those Nike ROC individual top 10s will also each win a Nike backpack for their performances, as will the top 3 finishers from each of the other 13 races at the meet.

Then to acknowledge those number 5 runners who close out the scoring for the winning team of each race, Nike will honor them with special "Anchor Awards."  There will also be team awards for the top three teams in the Nike ROC races and top two in all others.  It all adds up to more significant incentive than ever before for top teams and athletes to make plans for GACC, and perform to the top of their abilities.

Athletes, coaches and fans will be able to purchase Nike apparel at WakeMed not only on race day, but also the day before during packet pickup (1pm-5pm) and as teams get their chance for course run-throughs.

The event, which started in 1999 and was purchased by the NSAF in 2002, has been hosted at WakeMed Soccer Park since 2009.  Thirteen boys' and girls' varsity and junior varsity 5,000m races are scheduled (plus the two HBCU races, men's 8k and women's 5k), highlighted by the Race of Champions events at 10:40am (boys) and 11am (girls).  Nike was a previous sponsor of the GACC, back in the 2000s.

The 2015 edition of the meet was cancelled due to a severe storm in the Cary, N.C. area that shut down WakeMed Soccer Park and compelled a North Carolina Governor's State of Emergency declaration.  The 2014 Race of Champion winners were Andrew Hunter and Libby Davidson, individually, and the La Salle Academy, RI boys and Blacksburg, VA girls in the team battle.

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