Shelbyville will roll out the red carpet later this month as the Big Ten Conference will be bringing its men's and women's cross-country championships to town on Jan. 30.
The event will be held at Shelbyville's Blue River Course, which has served as the host for high school semi-state, the Division III Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship and other meets. There will be no spectators allowed from the general public due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Michelle Nolley, of Alpha Timing , tells Giant FM it is "exciting" to host this event.
"It is exciting to be able to host a prestigious event like this. In these odd times, the coaches wanted a neutral, non punishing course for the athletes since they have a compacted indoor, cross and outdoor season planned. Blue River fits the bill. It is a challenging, but fair course within the footprint of the Big Ten," Nolley told Giant FM.
For the teams, this meet is not only a championship event, but also the only way into the NCAA Championship, as there will be no regionals for cross-country this year. All selection for the national championship will be done strictly from conference meets.
Nolley said hosting the meet in January could be interesting due to weather, but if it cooperates, runners could see some fast times.
"Having a meet in late January could be interesting, but we are trying to cover all possibilities. The meet will not be open to the public to watch but they intend to live stream it which will be cool because they will have Shelbyville on the stream," she said.
And, she tells Giant FM, it is another opportunity to showcase a top notch facility.
"For the course, it gives us more credibility and it is thrilling that the coaches voted unanimously to come here for the meet," Nolley said.
Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun welcomed the news, adding it will be exciting to host.
"Certainly any time we can host an event of this caliber, it is an exciting time. It speaks to the quality of the facility and the efforts of the Sports Tourism Board. Under the director of Gary Nolley, the board has taken a field that was once growing wheat and turned it into a first-class facility that is attracting competitors from the highest level of the sport," DeBaun said.
The venue has 450 hotel beds within two miles of it, and DeBaun knows those rooms would be full if it wasn't for Covid-19, but he says the city will still see an economic boom.
"It will still add some modest gains to the local economy and continue to build on our reputation as a host and as a community," DeBaun said.