Northern Lakes League moves its cross country championship to Michigan

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OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. (WTVG) - The Northern Lakes League has a new home for its league cross country championship.

Except, it is further from home and outside the State of Ohio.

In May, 13abc reported the Metroparks of the Toledo Area - a taxpayer funded park district which operates as a regional government agency under Ohio Revised Code - told area high schools it could no longer host cross country meets in the park. This includes the NLL as the eight-team league ran its October league championship at Secor Metropark.

Five of the NLL's member schools are in Lucas County, two are in Wood County and one is located in Henry County.

School buses and school transportation vans will now click through a few more miles on the odometer this fall as the new site is at Whiteford Valley Golf Club in Ottawa Lake, Mich., approximately seven miles north of Secor Metropark.

"We took a look at different options and a couple of our options were within the league and we like to hold our championships at neutral sites," NLL Commissioner Richard Browne said. "We heard that Whiteford Valley had in the past hosted cross country events, so we looked there and the venue seemed to fit what we needed."

How does a league made entirely of teams from the Buckeye State run a league championship in the Wolverine State?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says as an organization, it is fine with this location for two reasons: it is not an OHSAA event and since Michigan is a contiguous state, it does not require special approval by the group.

"Nobody (in the Northern Lakes League) had a real big problem with it," Browne said. "It was a little strange because we are traveling across state lines. We'd like to keep it closer to home, but Whiteford Valley is not too far away from Southview and Northview schools and in general with our whole league.

"So it was a natural fit for us at this point where we are at."

Northview High School is the host school for the event and administrators from the school originally eyed land near Timberstone Junior High School as the new site for the meet.

However, because the Olander Park System missed a 2016 deadline to put its levy on the November ballot, there is not enough money in the park system's budget to help Sylvania City Schools prep the land for a suitable cross country course this fall.

The Bowling Green State University campus was once the site of the meet, but this is not an option this fall because the Falcons homecoming football game falls on the same day.

"All of our (athletic directors) felt comfortable with the move," Browne said. "We had a vote within our league and it was an 8-0 vote so we're ready to go."

Browne says a return to the Metroparks is not on the horizon for the NLL because there are people still surprised that the Metroparks made its decision given that a majority of the NLL schools are in the Metroparks district.

"I'm not sure that we are going to reach out to (the Metroparks)," Browne said. "That may be a possibility, but right now there is no discussion to reach back out to the Metroparks to see if they've changed their mind or change their stance."