The PIAA released their revised state XC qualifying standards yesterday and got two things right – the need to reduce the field size and the need to race over 2 days to limit exposure.

Once the decision was made to hold the championships, the next most important question the PIAA needed to answer was how best to assign qualifiers from the different districts/regions across the state. Common sense would lead you to assume that the % of team representation by district (as a percent of the states total) would have been the place to start.

If you didn’t read the standards for qualification, let me summarize – in each class (A, AA, AAA) represented in each district, the number of team qualifiers and individual qualifiers is exactly the same, regardless of how large (or small) a district is (some small districts combine to form a region). Total number of participants per race is capped at 132. Well, 132 for class A and class AA. Since 3 of the districts in the state do not have AAA representation, rather then spreading out additional qualifiers to get to 132 competitors, the PIAA reduced the AAA field from 132 to 96! That’s 36 less individuals making the trip to Hershey even though statewide there are essentially no less schoo,s in AAA than in any other class. There are 188 schools to 193 schools across the 3 classes, both boys and girls. So there is essentially no difference in # of competing schools. To deny both AAA boys and girls 36 individuals is an atrocity.

Note – In case anyone is unaware, class AAA schools are the largest populated schools in the state.

Here is the current state qualifying breakout for XC this season:

So, it the PIAA is listening, please accept one of the following 2 solutions to decrease the inequity in your current plan.

The plan the PIAA needs to adopt – Option 1:

This is the plan to address any strong desire to keep team qualification in this modified year.

1. If the state wants 1 team per district then let’s keep 1 team per district qualifying for the state meet. This means 8 teams qualify for the state meet in class AAA, 11 qualify in class AA and class A.

2. Now, adjust the number of individual qualifiers per district based on size of each district or region up to 132 total racers. This doesn’t mean every district gets 5 individual qualifiers. There is way too much discrepancy in District size to do this! This means you also increase the number of individual qualifiers in class AAA to 76 so that AAA can also have 132 racers. It’s discouraging to see that the schools with the largest populations have 36 less runners in both the boys and girls races!!!

– some districts are still so small that 1 team qualifying with 7 runners already puts them over their proportion of total runners based on their participation levels, thus creating immediate inequity. That said, to ensure the top individuals from each district participate we recommend a minimum of 2 individual qualifiers per district (but not the 5 as the PIAA has assigned). This creates even further inequity with the smaller districts getting an even larger disproportionate number of qualifiers, BUT not so much as what the PIAA already submitted.

Using this methodology, the new assignments look like this:


Districts 5 and 8 are combined in AA to form a region.

*rounding leads to 130, so additional competitors were awarded to the two districts closest to rounding up.

Districts 4 and 6 are combined. Districts 8 and 10 are combined in AAA.

*Rounding takes additional (+) qualifiers up to 133, so reduction of 1 competitor was applied to the district most narrowly rounding up.


District 5 and 8 are combined in A.

District 5 and 8 are combined in AA.

Districts 4 and 6 are combined AND Districts 8, 9, and 10 are combined in AAA.

The plan the PIAA needs to adopt – Option 2

This plan removes all inequity. The only way to do this is to eliminate the team championship this season (OR run the team championship a week later). The smaller districts getting 1 team with 7 runners already puts them over their “limit” if we keep qualifiers based on the % of XC teams participating in each district/region (as a percent of the state’s total).

Keep 132 qualifiers per A and AA race AND increase the AAA field to the same 132 qualifiers.

EXAMPLE – District 3 class AAA girls represent 26.178% of the total schools competing in AAA XC. They should receive 0.26178 x 132 = 34.55, or 35 individual qualifiers. District 6 class AAA girls and District 8 class AAA girls both represent 3.141% of the total schools competing in AAA XC. They should receive 0.03141 x 132 = 4.14 or 4 individual qualifiers. Since you need 7 (or at least 5) runners to form a team, then District 6 and District 8 do not have the bandwidth to qualify a team.

To suggest that District 6 or District 8, each with only 3.141% representation of total class AAA schools, should receive the exact same number of participants as District 3, with 26.178% representation, is crazy! There are 6 teams in the combined District 6 region and 6 teams in the combined District 8 region. There are 50 teams in District 3. District 3 is 8.33 times larger!

Oh, and take a look at the merged AAA boys District 4 and District 8 region. This region has 4 schools. 4! In the PIAA’s current plan this region receives 1 team and 5 individual qualifiers for states. So, in a district race with a maximum participation of 28, they will qualify 12 runners total. 42.8% (12/28) of runners in this district/region will qualify for states! District 3 class AAA boys on the other hand have 47 teams. In the current PIAA plan they too will receive 1 team and 5 individual qualifiers. So, 12/329 participants, or only 3.6% of their runners qualify.

There is time to fix this. The time is now.

Please share. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with many coaches, athletes, and parents. All agree the current proposal is no good. While everyone is appreciative that there will be a state meet, all also agree that if you’re going to hold the meet the you need to do it right. This is not rocket science. Common sense must prevail.

Please PIAA, take some additional time to review your qualifying standards. The way you have it as of today isn’t even close to fair and equitable.

Happy to address any questions –