NCHSAA Updates XC Regional and State Qualifying for 2020-21

The NCHSAA has announced some major changes to their Sports Manual for the 2020-21 athletic year. The state meet is set for Friday and Saturday, January 22nd and 23rd, 2021. The specific day each classification is running has not been announced yet. Team will qualify for their regional meet based on conference placing. The number of teams qualifying for regionals out of each conference will be staggered based on the number of teams in each conference. The number of individuals qualifying for regionals out of each conference will be limited. Regardless of the specific number per conference regional qualifying individuals will be required to place in the top 12 at the conference meet in order to advance. The exact structure of the stagger has not been announced yet. 

The NCHSAA also announced that "cloth face coverings should not be worn during activities that inhibit breathing (i.e. swimming, distance running, or other high aerobic activity)" during practice, but nothing was mentioned specifically about forced masks in competition. This may come off as a disadvantage for Chapel-Hill/Carrboro schools who will be required to wear masks during competition.

There is not much mentioned about track aside from no sharing of equipment. Relays will be an interesting topic that the NCHSAA will have to address. Regarding track and field the NCHSAA said "sport specific modifications, rules, regulations, and rule considerations will be posted at a later date." Continue reading for the full breakdown for the XC season from the NCHSAA:


First Practice:

November 4

Season Limitation:

14 Meets

First Contest:

November 16

Weekly Limitation:

2 Meets

Final Play Date & Reporting Deadline:

January 8

Daily Limitation:

1 Meet


January 15-16

State Championships:

January 22-23

Skill Development Regulations

  • NCHSAA Handbook Regulation 2.2.15 remains in place for the 20-21 school year with the exception of Section (d) - Dead Periods
    • Updated dead periods are listed under Points of Emphasis on page 9
  • Runners must maintain at least 6 feet of distancing between individuals, no grouping (i.e. starts and finishes)

Regular Season Modifications

  • A maximum of four (4) schools per contest are allowed
  • The number of individuals allowed to participate on a team during an event is as follows
    • Four (4) schools per contest
      • Teams are limited to seven (7) individuals
    • Three (3) schools per contest
      • Teams are limited to nine (9) individuals
    • Two (2) schools per contest
      • Teams are limited to fourteen (14) individuals

NCHSAA Regulation Modifications

  • Face Coverings
    • Cloth Face coverings must be worn to the start area.  It is recommended that athletes have a method of keeping their face covering with them during the race
      • For example, a safety pin could be used to secure the cloth face covering to the uniform, face-covering pulled down and around the neck, or tucked into a waistband.  This would also facilitate the resumption of wearing face-covering promptly after the finish of the race

  • Designated Team Area
    • Locations must be designated for teams to remain when not warming up, racing, or cooling down
    • Designated Team Area must be for competing athletes and coaches only.  No spectators or parents allowed in the Designated Team Area
    • Designated Team Areas should be clearly marked by painted boxes, roped areas, cones, etc.
    • Minimum spacing between each Designated Team Area must be at least 10 feet apart

  • Multiple Level or Group Competition
    • If Varsity and JV competitions or multiple group competitions are conducted at the same facility on the same day, the facility must be cleared between competitions 
    • If a facility is hosting a multi-level or group competition, arrival and departure times for each team must be clearly communicated and strictly adhered to in order to prevent overlapping of teams or groups on site

NFHS Rules Modifications

  • Course:  Consider widening the course to at least 6 feet at its narrowest point
  • Start of Race:  Consider using staggered, wave or interval starts
    • Distance between teams or competitors, depending on the start, must be established from the starting box through the first 100 meters or more
    • Meet host will have the option to use and communicate any of the procedures below
      • Option 1 - Spaced Mass Start
        • Extend alleys out to 100m or more 
        • Distance between teams must be a minimum of 6'
          • Greater spacing is recommended if the site allows
      • Option 2 - Wave Start by Team Positions
        • Wave by teams' #1s, #2s, #3s, etc.
        • Individuals from the 4 different teams would be spread across the start line using every other start box with a minimum of 6' between teams
        • Time between waves 15 seconds minimum
      • Option 3 - Wave Start by Team
        • Wave by teams
        • The entire team will start with time between each team
        • Time between waves 30 seconds minimum
    • Usage of Rule 8.4.4.b. / Audio-Visual start is recommended for Wave Starts.  An air horn or whistle can be used for starting each wave

  • Race Finish
    • Consider using finish corrals and/or multiple chutes and FAT timing for larger meets
    • With no FAT timing system, consider alternative means of finish place and time to address congestion at the finish line
    • Consider using image-based equipment at the finish to assist with picking a place to avoid congestion
    • The finish area must be designated as "No Spectator Zone"
    • Athletes must leave the finish chute promptly and return to the designated team area immediately upon finishing

General Requirements

  • Establish social distancing protocols for checking uniforms
    • Designate a time for each team to be at the clerk's table/tent to avoid a gathering of multiple teams

  • Pre and Post Game Ceremony
    • Establish meet specific social distancing protocols including the elimination of handshakes before and after the meet

  • Requirements for Coaches
    • Cloth face coverings must be worn at all times
    • Clearly communicate your guidelines to students and parents
    • Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed

  • Requirements for Students
    • Cloth face coverings are permitted during competition and must be worn when not actively competing
    • Competitors will be allowed to wear cold-weather gear during meets.  All other uniform rule codes are still enforceable and must be followed
    • Each student is responsible for their own supplies: hand sanitizer, water bottle, towels, etc.
    • Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing or uniform (do not share clothing)
    • Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well

  • Requirements for Officials
    • Cloth face coverings must be worn at all times
    • Follow social distancing guidelines:
      • Pre and Post Meet conferences
      • Clerking at the start line
      • Tabulations and posting of results
    • Bring personal hand sanitizer; Wash hands frequently
    • Do not share equipment
    • Consider using an electronic whistle
    • Do not shake hands
    • Follow established pre and post-game ceremony guidelines

  • Considerations for Parents
    • A family's role in maintaining safety guidelines for themselves and others:
      • Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is doubt, stay home)
      • Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them
      • Follow social distancing guidelines, including wearing a cloth face covering while at the facility

Post-Season Modifications

  • Conference Championship Meets
    • One (1) conference tournament/meet that does not count towards season/weekly limitation, allowing all conference member schools to compete.  This meet would need to be contested before the end of the regular season date of Jan. 8th 
    • Meets are limited to 7 runners per team per gender

  • Regional Championships
    • Teams and individuals will qualify for the Regional competitions based on conference placing
    • Each conference may choose the best method of determining conference placing
      • Qualification can be determined by placing at a conference (championship) meet
      • Qualification can be determined by regular-season standings
        • Conferences may determine how individuals will be ranked for the regular season
    • Number of teams qualifying for Regionals out of each conference
      • Will be staggered based on the number of full teams in each conference.  The exact structure of this staggered system or number of teams will be announced
      • The number of teams qualifying will be based on the eligibility summary, which is due one week after the first contest date
    • The number of individuals qualifying for Regionals out of each conference will be limited.  This exact number of individuals will be announced. Regardless of the determined number, regional qualifying individuals will be required to place in the Top 12 at the conference meet or be ranked in the Top 12 for the regular season

  • State Championships:
    • The exact number of teams and individuals will be announced at a later date.

    In-Season Practices

      • State, local or school district guidelines for acceptable cloth face coverings must be strictly followed. There is no need to require or recommend "medical grade" masks for physical activity. However, masks with exhalation valves or vents or face shields should NOT be worn
      • Coaches and staff should give strong consideration to wearing cloth face coverings at all times but must be worn if 6 feet distancing is not possible (Be a role model!)
      • Cloth face coverings should not be worn during activities that inhibit breathing (i.e. swimming, distance running, or other high aerobic activity)