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Local Sports

Column: Adjustments needed to district track

There will always be something about everything that can be done better. There are almost no perfect scenarios in life.

But the state track qualifying meets need adjusted.

After talking to the area coaches after last week’s state qualifying meets, it became known to me that most of the area schools got home around midnight on a school night. Students from Baxter High School pulled into their school parking lot after 1 a.m.

Is that necessary? Can we do something to make things easier on the kids who have to get up the next day to go to school? I think in this instance, we are forgetting about the education part of the student-athlete.

There is a 45-minute break at each state qualifying meet. Why?

After asking around and speaking with a coach who I used to cover when I worked in Marshalltown, I found out that the break is to help with recovery for the distance runners.

That particular coach is OK with the break. And maybe most coaches are. It is not needed though. The athletes have been running in meets all year without breaks. I know this particular meet is bigger, but I don’t think the runners do both the 4x800 and 3,000-meter runs anyway.

That same coach also told me he is favor of it because it truly allows the best runners to get to the state meet.

My response to that is, there are plenty of examples that show the best runners aren’t always at state.

For example, Collins-Maxwell/Baxter sophomore Lauren Ratliff turned in a personal-best time in the 1,500 over in Hampton. She placed third with a time of around 5 minutes, 13 seconds.

The final at-large qualifying time was under that. There are still four qualifying times that were slower than Ratliff’s time. So that right there shows that the best and fastest runners aren’t always allowed to run at state anyway.

There is no perfect way to do it. Not every meet will run smoothly. I left the state qualifying meet in my hometown of Earlham at 9:40 p.m. and there were still two events left to complete. The meet probably got over after 10 p.m. and the Tigerhawks had about an hour drive home.

That put them home at around 11 p.m., which is better than what CMB had to deal with, but is still rather late to me. Not having that 45-minute break would help the “get home time” decrease significantly.

I also think the state organizations that figure out the qualifiers can do a better job. Why results from each state qualifier were not posted online after the meets was puzzling to me. What is the secret? What does it matter if fans and the media get to see those anyway.

Some of my coaches were up until the early morning hours trying to get their hands on results to figure out who needed to be at practice the next day.

I know there was some frustration, too, that the at-large qualifiers were not posted until after 2 p.m. on Friday. Practice starts at most schools at around 3:30 p.m. It would make it easier on everyone involved if those qualifiers were posted at a reasonable hour.

Enough of that soap box.

Good luck to all 56 area athletes competing at the state track meet, which starts today in Des Moines. I look forward to covering the three-day event and finding those unknown stories to talk about.

It may be a four-day event this season. Weather does not look good for Friday and Saturday.

Another sports journalist has already predicted that the meet may end on Monday.

I hope not. But it’s entirely possible

Contact Troy Hyde

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