An important athletic event will take place in Fort Dodge Saturday. Iowa Central Community College is hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association's Cross Country National Championships.
Runners from all over the nation, their coaches and fans will be in town. It is anticipated that approximately 625 student athletes representing 70 teams will compete.
"We are excited about the opportunity to host the event and I want to thank the many community volunteers who are helping us put together a first class race," Dr. Dan Kinney, ICCC president, told The Messenger. "Iowa Central would like to bring more national events to Fort Dodge to showcase the community and the college. And this is our chance to show the NJCAA we have the community support to do so."
This newspaper strongly endorses those sentiments.
Events such as this one offer Fort Dodge the opportunity to make a positive impression on folks who might otherwise have little knowledge of our hometown. Additionally, these visitors - many of whom began arriving here on Thursday and will stay through Saturday - will patronize area businesses during their time in Iowa. Obviously, that's good for the local economy.
This is the first time this national event is being held in Fort Dodge. It's good news that it will return here in 2015 and 2017. Our community should do all it can to make certain that all those who come here for this year's meet will have a positive experience. If that happens, the word will spread that Fort Dodge is an ideal location for similar future gatherings.
Both the men's and women's Iowa Central teams will be important competitors Saturday. The Iowa Central women won cross country national championships in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. They go into this event ranked No. 1 in the country. The Iowa Central men are currently ranked No. 2 and are viewed as also in contention for the top honors. Rick Sandquist, Iowa's Central's athletic director, and Dee Brown, longtime cross country coach, deserve applause for making this program highly successful.
The men's competition is at 11 a.m. Saturday. The women race at noon. The event is at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course and is open to the public.
The Messenger urges local sports fans to turn out to cheer on not only the home teams, but also to provide a warm Fort Dodge welcome to all the competitors and other visitors.