Rio to host 43rd Annual Patty Forgey

By RANDY PAYTON
Rio Grande Sports Information

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – More than 1,300 runners representing more than 70 schools in eight divisions will converge on the campus of the University of Rio Grande on Saturday, September 28, for the 2013 Patty Forgey Invitational cross country meet.

The event, which is in its 43rd year, includes a men's and women's division for college teams, as well as a boys' and girls' division for junior high/middle school teams and high school squads.

"Aside from the conference championships and anything on the national level, it's safe to say this is the biggest event on our schedule," said veteran Rio Grande head coach Bob Willey. "It's a great way to bring people to our campus and introduce them to the University of Rio Grande. There's a lot of work that goes into it but, at the same time, it also gives our athletes the opportunity to run at home."

The meet will get underway at 10 a.m. with the women's college division, with the men's college division to follow at 10:40 a.m. The junior high girls' division begins at 11:30 a.m. and precedes the junior high boys' division race at 12:05 p.m.

The high school portion of the meet is split into two divisions - Red (seeded) and White (unseeded). The girls' red division begins at 12:40 p.m. and the girls' white division follows at 1:20 p.m., while the boys' red division race is set for a 2 p.m. start. The boys' white division wraps up the day beginning at 2:40 p.m.

An exact number of runners and schools participating won't be known until registration closes Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The meet began in 1970 under the direction of then-URG head coach Dean Rhinehart and featured three divisions for high school boys, in addition to a division for men's college teams. Over the years, the event has grown to include women's teams in both the high school and college divisions, in addition to the creation of a middle school/junior high division.

"The course has changed a few times, the distance has changed and the number of people involved has changed," said Willey. "I'd say over the past 10 years we've probably had somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 runners - it's probably one of the largest sporting events in southeastern Ohio. It's a trip that a lot of schools looked forward to. In the old days, they'd come from Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland - from all over - and sleep in the gym the night before. This race has a lot of tradition. We've had some schools who have been with us since the beginning, we try to be organized and we try to hand out some nice awards. We want to leave a good taste in the mouths of everybody who participates and who comes to our campus."

The event is named in honor of Patty Forgey, a long-time secretary in the URG athletic department and avid supporter of the school's sports teams, who passed away in August 2010.

"Patty Forgey was the backbone of it all for a long time," Willey said. "She registered all of the teams by hand, deciphering the handwriting of every coach and did the bib number for each runner by hand. She put a lot of work into the meet."