Since the early 1990's, the Schuylkill League has held its cross country championships on a 3.1 mile course at Tuscarora State Park in Barnesville.
The course appeared to be an ideal location, as its natural trails were well suited for distance runners, and it was self-contained, which seemed to provide better safety. It was also a neutral site, available to any runners who wanted to work out on it during park hours.
The Tuscarora course also hosts the annual Chris and Kevin Truskey Memorial 5K and 10K Runs each August, which have brough hundreds of runners to the park and served as a season warm-up race for many Schuylkill harriers.
The scenic beauty of the park during the height of the fall foliage season is also appealing to spectators and runners alike.
For those reasons, the Schuylkill League's decision to pull its Division Championship and All-League Meet races from the park last week came as a surprise.
It has been announced that the league is moving its title races to Blue Mountain High School, due to some safety concerns with Tuscarora State Park.
The Division run-off is scheduled for this afternoon at The Eagles' Nest, with the boys race featuring D-I champion and host Blue Mountain vs. D-II winner Marian, while the North Schuylkill girls, the D-I champs, take on D-II titlist Schuylkill Haven.
The All-League Meet is scheduled to be held back at Blue Mountain on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
According to John Brennan, Shenandoah Valley cross country coach and chairman for Schuylkill League cross country, the issue with Tuscarora State Park involved traffic control during the races.
"It was discussed last year, and while I don't want to get into specifics, it had to be addressed," said Brennan about the move. "It is an issue between the league and park management. We thought a change of venue would be safer. There's no way we want to jeopardize our runners."
Lew Williams, Tuscarora State Park manager, said that the league was not being chased from the park.
"It was their decision not to come here," said Williams. "There may have been a misunderstanding about what they wanted and what we were willing to do, but they are welcome to come here."
The league's athletic directors met and decided to move its races from the park, but since the races were nearing, the short notice limited their options regarding possible sites, Brennan said.
"Blue Mountain is the school that stepped up," related Brennan. "They have the facilities and enough room and were willing to host it."
One major consideration. Brennan explained, is that Blue Mountain has enough parking for the 14 teams that will participate in the League Meet.
Since Blue Mountain is participating on its home course, the move has been questioned, because the Eagles will benefit from running on a familiar layout, but Brennan said it is the move available on such short notice.
Brennan stressed the move is only for one year, and the league's cross country coaches will meet on Thursday to discuss what should be done in the future.
Williams is hopeful the league will reconsider utilizing the park again.
"We will meet later in the Fall and work out any differences with them," said WIlliams. "We welcome that meeting."
DÉJA VU ... It's a rare accomplishment to score a late, game-winning goal once in a season.
Northern Lehigh field hockey standout Kianna Bellesfield did that one better, however, as she scored her second tie-breaking goal against rival Northwestern this season.
Last week, Bellesfield scored with 50-seconds left in regulation to lift Northern Lehigh to a 1-0 Colonial League victory.
It was a bit of déja vu for the Bulldog sophomore who also just last month scored with 2:57 left in the game to hand the Tigers a 2-1 setback.
SERVING STAR ... Sarah Lesisko recently wrote herself a page in the Tamaqua girls' volleyball record book.
In a Schuylkill League match with Schuylkill Haven on Oct. 5, the Blue Raider broke a 10-year-old school record and helped her team to a sweep of the Hurricanes. Lesisko was able to record 17 consecutive service points during the match, which broke the previous mark of 15 consecutive serves set in 1999.
The sophomore finished with 21 service points, including nine aces, in the match.
HELPING HAND ... Lehighton's do-everything field hockey star, Corri McConville, was in a giving mood on Oct. 8. In a game against Mountain Valley Conference foe Pleasant Valley, the senior dished out five assists in the Indians' 7-1 win over the Bears. Teammate Abby Frey had three of those goals and helped Lehighton stay unbeaten.
THE QUAD-FECTA ... Two local soccer players recorded four goals in a single game within the last two weeks of competition.
Northern Lehigh's Channing Shiffert dropped a four-spot on Pocono Mt. West in the Bulldogs' 7-1 win over their non-league opponent. Shiffert also had two assists in the game.
Jim Thorpe's Kristin Lawrence accomplished the feat as well against Weatherly. Lawrence scored four times in the Olympians' 12-1 victory. Teammates Chelsea Smelas and Caitlin Liscinski both added hat-tricks.
Ironically enough, both players had their four-goal efforts come on Oct. 12.
SHUT OUT STRING ... Tamaqua's girls' soccer team, which earlier this week clinched another Schuylkill League Division I championship, have gone on quite a run lately. While the Lady Raiders are undefeated on the season (15-0, 12-0), they have won their last six contests via a shutout.
Dating back to Oct. 1, Tamaqua has beaten Pottsville (2-0), Minersville (2-0), Pottsville (1-0), Schuylkill Haven (6-0), Upper Dauphin (4-0) and Pine Grove (5-0) by a combined score of 20-0.