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Cave Spring head coach Tommy Maguire talks with his boys team before the varsity race at the Blue Demon Invitational. Cave Spring will host over 100 teams at the Knights Crossing Invitational at Green Hill Park on Saturday. Green Hill Park will also be the site of this year’s VHSL Class 1, 2 and 3 state cross country races.

If you put a state meet there, they will come.

The VHSL has moved November’s Class 3, Class 2 and Class 1 cross country championships from the traditional Great Meadow sight in The Plains to Green Hill Park in Roanoke County.

With runners interested in checking out the 5-kilometer course, 86 high schools have entered Saturday’s Knights Crossing Invitational.

The varsity boys and girls will compete in two divisions with the first race beginning at 10:30 a.m.

The Green Hill course has undergone some changes.

A 12-foot-wide concrete culvert has replaced a narrow bridge where runners previously crossed over a creek. The site of the finish line also has been moved.

“They paved the road up where the finish line used to be,” said meet director Tommy Maguire of Cave Spring High School. “We’ve moved it more down into the field and the finish will be on a diagonal as runners finish toward the mountain.”

Maguire said his Cave Spring teams have raised and spent $7,000 on other improvements to the course, which also will feature a new stage where top finishers will receive their medals.

New fencing and other crowd control measures also have been installed to prepare for the VHSL meet in two months.

“Some of what we’ve done is probably unnecessary for the Knights Crossing, but it is necessary for the state meet,” Maguire said.

Maguire said this year’s Knights meet — which includes elementary, middle school and open races — will have 450 more entrants than the previous largest event.

Six Roanoke County police officers will assist with traffic flow into the park, while five ambulances will be present.

“We’re hoping it will be nice,” Maguire said. “It’s going to be a little hot, especially for those later races, but at least we don’t have to sweat out a hurricane.”

Hidden Valley and Blacksburg are the favorites for the girls team title.

Sasha Neglia of Dobyns-Bennett High in Kingsport, Tennessee, is the girls individual favorite after finishing 15th in the 2018 Nike Cross Nationals.

Oakton High of Fairfax County is the boys team favorite.

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