Newms Notes - March 27, 2013
By Michael Newman
Now that the commotion of the Illinois Top Times Championships has died down just a little bit, it is time to reflect on that and other things that went on in the last week in track & field in Illinois.
Here are a few of those things:
The state of the Illinois Top Times Championships
Last week was a different week for me in so many regards. It was usually the case that there would be so much stress getting ready for the meet. I am sure Bob Geiger, the meet director of the old meet, did not know what to do with himself last week. Walking into the Shirk Center Friday afternoon was a different experience for me. I was not worrying about how the meet would run. All I was worried about was how I was going to cover the meet.
During the course of the weekend, I was asked a number of times by Dan Andrews, Roland Brent, and Randy Anderson (the three men that took over the running of the meet) how did I think the meet was going.
Let’s put it this way. I was home in my home by 11PM on Saturday night. In past years, the meet was still going on. It was one of those things that have pushed some schools away from the meet. Everything ran on schedule during all three sessions. That’s always a good thing. The fields were pretty much full. The idea of the meet having no meet standards worked. I think there was some confusion leading up to the meet about no standards. Hopefully the success of the meet this year overshadows the idea of no standards. The fields were good in 1A and 2A. There were some elite athletes missing in 3A. Maybe that changes in 2014. The fields were manageable. That is why the meet was on time.
There was one controversy in the girls 3A Shot Put. I’ve heard various rumors on twitter and from the meet organization on what happened. There was a 30 minute delays between warm-ups and the finals. The performances were lower than expected. One of the coaches, who wished to be remain anonymous, gave me this account of what happened:
The ring was opened for warm-ups at 1:35, which seemed unusually early as the event was not scheduled to start until 2 pm. It does not take 12 girls 25 minutes to warm-up for an indoor shot put event. But this is okay. The problem began when the official (for no apparent reason) wanted to cut warm-ups off at 1:55 simply by making an announcement that it was time for warm-ups to conclude. After the warm-ups were cut short, the official realized that he was the only one ready to actually run the shot put. No markers, no one to pull the tape, record the distances, etc. In fact, he did not even have a competition clipboard with names ready to record distances.
So, the ring was shut down at 1:55pm and then the official began WRITING the athletes names down on a piece of paper to record distances with. About 10 minutes later, a marking crew finally shows up along with another official, they give the athletes a 5+ minute rule meeting (great, NOW they know the rules of the shot put!), and the competition does not actually start until 2:15. Naturally, it was run slowly as the marker didn't even have a "marking stick" to poke into the ground, thus he was forced to drag the tape to the mark. With the 6-alive approach, the highest rated throwers didn't even get an attempt until 2:20pm or so, since the ring had been closed down at 1:55pm for warm ups. So, the issue was likely due to a miscommunication within the meet, which does happen. It is just rather unfortunate that the athletes were put under such hindering circumstances making what should have been a great competition turn into a stressful, energy-lacking outing for seemingly the entire group.
There was one seeding problem in the Girls 3A 4 x 200 Meter Relay where Plainfield North should have been in the fast section of the race. Instead they were in the section before that. It benefitted Plainfield North in the long run because they did not have traffic to deal with. The names on the results sheet were backwards. Nothing major was wrong with the meet. All little things that I am sure that will be ironed out by next March.
The race that was not run
Courtney Clayton (Hononegah HS, Rockton) had just finished running the 200 Meter Dash. Earlier in the day, she had finished second in the 400. The race where she was the defending state champion, the 800, did not have her as a competitor.
“I don’t think people realize why I was not running the 800 in this meet. I had already run the fast time at Brooks so it was not necessary,” she said after finishing her 200. “My coach (Danny Savage) and I felt it was important in this meet to run some fast times in those event to get myself ready for Arcadia in two weeks.” Clayton has eyes on the state record in May, but she wants to run faster than that before state. Looking at her performances at Bloomington, she has a good shot of doing that.
It was happening all again. Three weeks before at the ICOPS Championships of Lewis University, Kevin Grahovec (Marmion Academy, Aurora) and Kyle Hauser (Marist HS, Chicago) came down the home stretch in the 800 Meter Run. Hauser out leaned Grahovec by two hundredths of a second. Last Saturday, Grahovec led from the start in the 3A 800 Meter Run. On the final straight, he led a group of 5 runners towards the line with him slightly in the lead. “I turned back. I don’t know why I did that,” Grahovec said after the race.
Connor Rachford (Bartlett HS, Bartlett) inched by Grahovec to win by one hundredth of a second. If you can add those two together, Grahovec has only lost by three hundredths of a second in the 800. Remember, this was not the end of the season. It seems those things happen for reasons that we cannot explain. Those three hundredths may pay off for Grahovec in May.
Before the ITT Championships, Yorkville coach Ben Draper alerted me to the fact that his star Long / Triple Jumper Mackenzie Bollinger had injured her knee in practice and would not be competing in the meet. Her worst fears came true on Monday. According to Rick Armstrong of the Aurora Beacon News and confirmed by Draper, MacKenzie had a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament that will require season-ending surgery. “I feel terrible for her,” said Draper, “but now her role on our team shifts more toward the captain / coach aspect.”
Jessica Jump (Metro-East Lutheran HS, Edwardsville) collapsed to the ground after winning the 200 Meter Dash Friday night. After icing it over the weekend, she went to her therapist and it does not look like she will be out for the rest of the year.
“We are excited that her prognosis looks like she will be back to full speed by Sectionals,” said Metro East Lutheran Coach Dave Redden. A funny twist in the story is that her therapist is Chris Pifer, father of Stephen Pifer who made a big name for himself as a state champion at Edwardsville HS, and later an All-American at the University of Colorado.
More about Jump Friday on DyeStat Illinois!
The things you see at a track meet
An indoor track meet is in a confined space where spectators can get very close to the competing athletes. There was an instance of that during Saturday’s 3A session of the Illinois Top Times Championships. A lady who was sitting on the outside of the track wanted to go see someone near the Pole Vault. The problem was on how she got there. The infield was confined to athletes, coaches, and the press. She was none of those.
She walked from her seat and headed towards the infield. She crossed both Long Jump run ways. There was a male athlete that was about ready to make a jump suddenly because the lady walking across blocked the pit. Fortunately, neither the athlete or her was injured. Roland Brent, one of the meet directors, had to explain to her she was not allowed on the infield and would need to return to her seat. He directed her to walk behind the High Jump pit back to her seat.
She proceeded to start to walk in front of the high jump pit as an athlete was just about to make a jump. Brent stopped her…again.
I like to plan ahead. It could be a good thing but when you obsess about it then it becomes a problem. That is what I have been told at least.
When I started writing, one of the things I knew I would have to face eventually is if my children decided to participate in cross country or track. My daughter is in eight grade right now and has told me a number of times that she is going to be running cross country in high school. I was happy that she wants to do that since her dear old dad did that for a little in high school, college, and beyond.
Then the grim reality hit me was how was I going to cover her meets in the fall and write about them. I am a proud parent, just like any parent would be when watching their child run. So how do you write without bias?
One coach in the conference that she will be running in joked with me that at least the conference now would get more coverage.
I received accusations when I was writing a couple of years ago when Jack Driggs of York was having a great senior year in track. Driggs was running some unbelievable races. I would look at every weekend of races and his performances would stand out. That is why he would be the headline. But I would receive e-mails saying that I was writing with bias. You see, I graduated from York HS. I was sticking to the facts, like I do, and writing what I saw. My heart will always bleed for my old school (like it does for most of the schools that you all went to). The fact of the matter is that it made me a better writer.
When I cross that bridge, I will deal with it at that point. Right now I could not imagine about writing about a child of mine without bias. I am glad that I am not coaching. How could you write about young people that you have not invested time in without writing with bias about their athletes. I had a friend in Ohio that would was a part time coach that would have to excuse himself from writing about meets that his athletes were a part of. I am glad that I do not have to deal with that struggle!
In the meantime, I will continue to do what I do in giving you a picture of what I see. For those of you that are not there, I hope I can recreate that for you a little.
In the fall, the staff at DyeStat Illinois may grow a little bit more so that I can cheer for my daughter having fun on a cross country course.
Have a blessed Easter everyone!