VIENNA - Originally entitled the McDonough Madness cross country meet, today's inaugural Marissa Miller Memorial 3K race at McDonough Park figures to have more than its share of tears.
Miller is the 12-year-old student from Jackson Middle School who died earlier this month after collapsing on a soccer practice field.
"We were trying to introduce a new race called the McDonough Madness - we've never run up there," Jackson cross country coach Sharon Marks said. "It was unfortunate of Marissa's passing. She had run for me - she loved to run and I talked to her mother who agreed with the name change.
"Marissa wasn't running this year because she was on two soccer teams and playing basketball, so she was too busy. It was a shock when I heard the news because she was so athletic and so outgoing. I never pictured her being sick a day in her life."
The middle school event begins with the girls race at 5 p.m. followed immediately by the boys division at approximately 5:30 p.m. An awards ceremony will cap off the event, which will recognize the team champion with a traveling trophy.
"Marissa Miller affected so many people," Wood County athletic director Bill Vincent said. "She knew kids from all schools that so many kids her age were affected. If you didn't know her, you knew of her athletic endeavors. A lot of people were saddened by her passing."
Jackson, which still does a cheer in honor of Miller when it breaks the huddle before the start of a race, will join a field which includes Edison, Hamilton, VanDevender and Blennerhassett.
"You never know who is going to win because cross country is such a quirky sport," Marks said. "The boys and girls teams from Jackson and Hamilton have gone back and forth all year, and Edison's boys team is so strong. We'll just have to see."