Expected rain Friday night shouldn’t hinder the hundreds of competitors in town for Saturday’s big events.
While we may hear some thunder tonight, tomorrow, the rumble will be of runners storming the cross country course at LaVern Gibson.
The NCAA logo is on the course now, ready for the runners in the morning.
That means, tonight, we have athletes, coaches and fans from all over the nation enjoying our community.
Division one championships draw quite the crowd, and to kick off the championship season Terre Haute is the prime location.
“There’s not many places in the nation that have a course designated just for cross country,” says Andy Eggerth, sub-committee chair for the sports committee. “It’s outstanding the way the community gets behind the event and, you know, really invest into the facility, into the event, which makes it a great experience for the student athletes.”
The fact that Terre Haute is hosting the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country championship for the 14th time is a major accomplishment.
“It’s huge, you know, last night I saw all the buses around town with as many students and fans that are here,” says Mayor Bennett. “But to see those people come into town and get to experience Terre Haute just to see where we are at but then see this great course but they go away feeling very good about Terre Haute, Indiana.”
And it’s even one of the biggest event held here in the Wabash Valley.
“Probably means somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars to our community,” says Dave Patterson. “So our community is packed, the surrounding communities are packed, you know, there aren’t… There are very few hotel rooms around but that’s a good thing.”
It’s Indiana’s central location that makes LaVern Gibson a centerpiece for those around the nation.
“I think one of the benefits is that people are coming to the center of the country, so everybody’s kind of traveling in equal distance for the most part,” says Eggerth. “You know, whether they are coming East coast or West coast and not having to change too many time zones and those types of things so absolutely a benefit for Terre Haute.”
Dave Patterson also says that nearly 30,000 people have come and gone through the Valley since the beginning of the cross country season.
So our hotels, restaurants and businesses are benefiting from such a high volume event.
And while the race is less than 24 hours away, Friday, Mayor Bennett showcased a proclamation.
So beginning Saturday, and for one day only, we’ll now be residents of “Terre Hut” in honor of the championship season kicking off.
Pizza Hut drafted their first All-American NCAA champion to tour the nation, and that champion is Jason Fisher.
He is making his first stop here at Terre Haute to begin his journey.
“I think Terre Haute represents a lot the best of America,” says Fisher. “I mean, I can just tell there are really good hard-working people here. And it’s not showy or fancy but it’s beautiful in it’s own way. And I really like it here and this represents the country that I’m about see and no better place to start than right in the middle of it. Terre Haute, this is the capital of the US.”
Fisher will be at the cross country championship Saturday, and then he’ll be on plane heading to Virginia for his next NCAA champion competition.