Track and field won’t be the same without regionals
This year’s track and field seniors are lucky.The class of 2008 athletes on teams like the Glenwood girls squad get to end their high school careers as regional champions.Hopefully, when the Demon girls captured their second-straight championship on Saturday, they celebrated, because the current juniors and sophomores won’t be able to do what the seniors did this year.Not because they aren’t as talented, hard-working or determined. But simply because they won’t have the chance.Thanks to the Colorado High School Activities Association voting to eliminate regional track meets, there will be no opportunity for the Demons to try to three-peat.I just can’t figure out why this was a good idea. If CHSAA doesn’t want as many athletes going to the state meet, then the top-three finishers at regionals don’t have to go. Make it only the first-place finishers or only those who hit the state marks.While qualifying for state is a large part of kids’ motivation behind their regional efforts, going to state is not the most important thing.Many team’s goals revolve around winning regional team titles. For most athletes it is the culminating event of their season. It gives kids one last meet to test their abilities against the schools they want to meet the most, rivals and friends they’ve gone head-to-head with all year.This situation rings even more true on the Western Slope. For athletes on the Slope, who don’t compete against the state-best every week like schools in the Front Range, the Western Slope Regional is basically their state.It’s not like the state track meet is too long or dragged down by too many athletes. If that is what CHSAA thinks, then it should make track like swimming and diving. Athletes have to hit qualifying marks during the season, but they still have regionals. They are still given the opportunity to be regional champions, to say they are the best from their area of the state. Then individuals who hit state marks go on to take on the best of Colorado.Even that would change the entire way track and field squads train and plan out their seasons. Instead of working hard to peak at the end, kids will have to try to hit state marks as soon as possible. The only problem is, that intense training can’t last all season. If an athlete qualifies early in the season, then they have to take it easy and then get back in gear for state at the end. It screws up the whole methodology coaches and athletes use.Voting to eliminate regional track meets only hurts the athletes. It robs from the team component of high school track and field because there are only a handful of teams who can actually vie for a state title.The only good news is that CHSAA only voted to get rid of regionals for the next two-year cycle. Hopefully, it will be obvious what a horrible decision it is and regionals will return in 2011. Maybe then the Glenwood girls will be given the chance they deserve to defend their title.Contact Joelle Milholm: firstname.lastname@example.org
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