Maplewood Invitational meet director Ted Rupe moved the event from its normal Saturday to a Thursday afternoon due to the Labor Day holiday weekend beginning in 2008.
This year, because of the construction around the course behind Maplewood High School, there are changes for this year's event.
Rupe said that instead of the 3.1-mile varsity course snaking through the soccer field, baseball field and the woods east and west of the high school, the course "is now two 1.5 (mile) loops and goes through a loop in adjacent Mecca Park."
Teams from Badger, Berkshire, Braden, Bristol, Cardinal, Conneaut, Edgewood, Gilmour Academy, Girard, James A Garfield, Jefferson, LaBrae, Maplewood, McDonald, Pymatuning Valley, Ravenna and Trinity are slated to compete in today's Maplewood Invitational.
The junior high boys race starts at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior high girls at 5 p.m. Both races are on a 2-mile course.
The varsity boys race begins at 5:30, followed by the girls at 6. The awards will be presented at 6:45 p.m.
McDonald, which finished second at last year's Division III boys state meet, is the defending champion at Maplewood. They and Trinity should compete for the team title.
Berkshire senior Matt Pelletier, who is coming off a win at the Berkshire Early Bird, returns to defend his individual title at Maplewood. McDonald's Patrick Kunkel, Kyle Joynes and Bobby Johnson, along with Maplewood's Wyatt Hartman and Lakeview's Eric Harris will also be in the running for the individual crown.
On the girls side, Gilmour Academy is the defending team champion. Gilmour Academy, McDonald, Berkshire and Maplewood should compete for the team title.
Sophomore Halle Markel returns to defend her individual title. McDonald's Kenzie Srock and Sarah Jones, along with Berkshire's Sara Patterson and Maplewood's Alanna Shamrock will also be in the running for the individual honors.
So far, the 2011 cross country season has gone as expected with little surprises.
McDonald finished second to Division II juggernaut Woodridge at the Billy Goat Challenge. Hanging within 10 points of the Bulldogs is a good way for the Blue Devils to start their season.
At the same race inside the confines of Woodland Park in McDonald, Poland came within five points of overtaking Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy - one of the better Division II teams in the state.
Speaking of the girls' race, Austintown Fitch's Carissa Jenkins won the individual title and has been running well for the Falcons.
At the Salem Early Bird Invitational, Boardman got off to a good start by beating a seasoned Howland team by 23 points.
Boardman's Mark Hadley, who could well be one of the best male runners this season, won the boys individual title - followed by teammate Alan Burns. Howland's Nathan Sutton came up with a fifth-place finish to pace the Tigers, who could be very competitive in 2011.
It was almost a mirror image on the girls side as Boardman took a 21-point victory over Howland. Each team was led by freshmen. Jordan Grantonic, who won the event, led Boardman, while Taylor Craigo, who placed fourth, paced Howland.