In the Massachusetts MIAA State Regional Meets and All-States…
For some years now (since about the time all regions started using auto timing in the 90s) we have advanced competitors from heats to finals in the 100, 200 and 100/110 hurdles based on time not on place, a practice in opposition to the NFHS rulebook which indicates that place should be given preference over time.
Why does NFHS prefer place over time? Because if we have even-seeded heats and one heat of the 100 runs with a 3 meter per second head wind and another with no wind and the athletes in the second heat all run faster, it’s not fair that they should make the final over the second heat athletes. It’s not a level playing field.
We advance competitors from regionals to All-States based on this principle of head-to-head competition over time - four from each region - with a loop hole for fast times in competitive regions. Let’s be consistent and fair and advance competitors from trials to finals at regionals and all-states based on place first (with 3 heats, say top two from each heat and then two next best times). It’s the fair way to do it.
When athletes advance from regionals to All-States, we seed them with their Regionals performance. This too is unfair. The CW D1 100 girls ran the final into a 1.7 meter per second headwind on Monday due to the orientation of the Fitchburg State finish straight which runs northeast to southwest. On the other hand, the CW D2 meet at Westfield State which runs the finish straightaway from the southwest to the northeast likely ran with a tailwind or at least no headwind. They now have three of the top 11 seeds at All-States, from a Division that across other less-wind-influenced events typically has more of the lower seeds at All-States.
Additionally, in the distance events, we see athletes running into significant wind (or rain in some years some facilities or greater heat when some regional meets are on a different day, even indoors at Reggie when they have the temperature cranked to 80 on Friday night but on Saturday morning it’s only 60) conditions at one facility who are at a disadvantage for advancing. How much wind was Lenox’s Carpenter running with by himself at Westfield that stuck him with the slow heat of the 2 mile at States? I know Devoney and Farry, both with significantly faster seed times than their finish performances in the girls 2 Mile at Fitchburg were running into a variable 1-3 meter per second head wind, as evidenced by the sprint trials wind gauge readings taken immediately after.
Why are we privileging athletes in advancing to All-States and gaining preferred lanes in the prelims or preferred sections based on the conditions at facility where they competed? We should discontinue this practice - it’s not fair to the athletes.
Instead we should seed athletes at All-States with their best performance of the season - their seed mark with which they entered regionals - OR their regionals mark - whichever is BETTER. It’s the fair way to do it and a simple change to make.
I’d love it if one my fellow coaches can share these simple changes with the MIAA and Dick Baker. Let’s make our sport even better.