Outdoor State Qualifying Standards and Methods--I argue we are due for some changes
02/23/2020 5:02:42 PM
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I have been thinking about this for a long time that it may be time to slightly alter the rules concerning the outdoor state track and field qualifying standards. Let me explain. As I understand, currently, an athlete can qualify to attend the state meet in Shippensburg one of two ways: 1) Win the district meet in their event (or in some districts, finish in top 2,3,4 etc.). 2) Achieve a pre-determined state qualifying time or mark(SQS) at a district meet no matter what the athlete's place finish was. Currently, the athlete’s performance throughout the regular season is ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT. I contend that it shouldn’t be. Although this is the long-standing tradition that determines who is eligible to attend the outdoor state championship track and field meet, I do see a few shortcomings. Let's consider the (2) following possibilities: 1) Let’s assume there was a female 100-meter hurdler that has been running 13.80 consistently all year long. She is winning every meet and every invitational. At her district meet in the 100-meter finals, she hits the last hurdle and falls. She fails to finish with either a top spot or a state qualifying time. 2) An athlete has been throwing the javelin 185 feet consistently all year and two days before the district meet is hospitalized for 4 days due to an illness (so she is unable to compete at the district meet) but regains her health quickly so that she would have been healthy and able to attend states in Shippensburg. I argue that both these athletes deserve to go to the state meet considering their season performances but would have been denied this chance under these above circumstances. My solution is to have an SQS obtainable throughout the season (Exactly what is done for indoor track!) , so that if these situations arise(which I am absolutely certain they already have at some point in the past), the well-deserving athlete would still be able to make the trip to Shippensburg. To be legitimate, the new qualifying mark would have to be met at least 3 or 4 times (FAT) throughout the regular season. I admit that I am just a parent who knows little about the PIAA and how rules are determined. However, after seeing this, I was unable to stay silent without pointing this out. In addition, I understand that at least some field events allow the participant to have a higher mark/distance in the preliminary round than what they obtain in the final round and STILL have the earlier/preliminary number count as their best mark? However, at the very same time, if a sprinter or hurdler has a higher preliminary time than they do in the final, only the final time counts, for example: (an SQS in the 100m hurdles in the district preliminaries does not count!) Maybe it has always been this way and this is tradition, but it is obviously not fair that the field athletes have this advantage. I would love to hear the explanation why this is so.
I have been thinking about this for a long time that it may be time to slightly alter the rules concerning the outdoor state track and field qualifying standards.

Let me explain.

As I understand, currently, an athlete can qualify to attend the state meet in Shippensburg one of two ways: 1) Win the district meet in their event (or in some districts, finish in top 2,3,4 etc.). 2) Achieve a pre-determined state qualifying time or mark(SQS) at a district meet no matter what the athlete's place finish was. Currently, the athlete's performance throughout the regular season is ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT.

I contend that it shouldn't be.

Although this is the long-standing tradition that determines who is eligible to attend the outdoor state championship track and field meet, I do see a few shortcomings.

Let's consider the (2) following possibilities:

1) Let's assume there was a female 100-meter hurdler that has been running 13.80 consistently all year long. She is winning every meet and every invitational. At her district meet in the 100-meter finals, she hits the last hurdle and falls. She fails to finish with either a top spot or a state qualifying time.

2) An athlete has been throwing the javelin 185 feet consistently all year and two days before the district meet is hospitalized for 4 days due to an illness (so she is unable to compete at the district meet) but regains her health quickly so that she would have been healthy and able to attend states in Shippensburg.

I argue that both these athletes deserve to go to the state meet considering their season performances but would have been denied this chance under these above circumstances.

My solution is to have an SQS obtainable throughout the season (Exactly what is done for indoor track!) , so that if these situations arise(which I am absolutely certain they already have at some point in the past), the well-deserving athlete would still be able to make the trip to Shippensburg. To be legitimate, the new qualifying mark would have to be met at least 3 or 4 times (FAT) throughout the regular season.

I admit that I am just a parent who knows little about the PIAA and how rules are determined. However, after seeing this, I was unable to stay silent without pointing this out.

In addition, I understand that at least some field events allow the participant to have a higher mark/distance in the preliminary round than what they obtain in the final round and STILL have the earlier/preliminary number count as their best mark? However, at the very same time, if a sprinter or hurdler has a higher preliminary time than they do in the final, only the final time counts, for example: (an SQS in the 100m hurdles in the district preliminaries does not count!) Maybe it has always been this way and this is tradition, but it is obviously not fair that the field athletes have this advantage. I would love to hear the explanation why this is so.
02/24/2020 1:17:18 AM
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I don’t disagree with you, but I think the mark would have to be hit more that once. I hate the way PTFCA does it for indoors. Some kids hit the standard once, and get a coveted spot while others that have hit the standard on numerous occasions don’t get in because they weren’t one of the top 12 times in the 3K for instance.
I don't disagree with you, but I think the mark would have to be hit more that once. I hate the way PTFCA does it for indoors. Some kids hit the standard once, and get a coveted spot while others that have hit the standard on numerous occasions don't get in because they weren't one of the top 12 times in the 3K for instance.
02/27/2020 10:11:22 AM
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@Spriggle I think your comments are fair and reasonable and there are certainly situations where high quality athletes are denied the opportunity to compete at states. A few years back our local high school had 4 jumpers who could've easily been competitive at States but only 3 even had a chance since only 3 athletes from each school can compete in the district meet. But there would be any number of difficulties with what you are suggesting. 1. There are literally hundreds of meets during the outdoor season many of which do not publish their results or might have less that accurate timing methods. It would be next to impossible to verify many marks and I am not sure how much I would trust some of them. 2. There are certain advantages to a 'championship' format rather having to make an absolute time standard. First, the format of qualifying via your district meet/tournament is generally how other sports championships work and it is also how track and field works at national level. You have to come in top three at the Olympic trials to make the Olympic team; it may be harsh but I it is part of the ethos of competition (e.g. you've got to deliver on the day). Second, focusing the whole season on a time standard for a particular event can really impact the 'fun' of the season and possibly hinder athlete development. In the current indoor format, there is a lot of pressure on athletes to focus on the events where they may set a qualifying mark. It is not in their short term interest to run or test out off events etc. The current outdoor format gives the coaches and athletes the opportunity to build and train for the end of the season when it really counts. It can be tough if you don't make it but that can happen in the other system too. Personally, I think a move to at least three divisions (like XC) is in order. This will indirectly also have the impact of making the district meets a little less cut throat. Both Ohio and Illinois (just below PA in population) have three divisions. Also, I think it is common to go from district to regional/sectionals, then to state.
@Spriggle I think your comments are fair and reasonable and there are certainly situations where high quality athletes are denied the opportunity to compete at states. A few years back our local high school had 4 jumpers who could've easily been competitive at States but only 3 even had a chance since only 3 athletes from each school can compete in the district meet. But there would be any number of difficulties with what you are suggesting.

1. There are literally hundreds of meets during the outdoor season many of which do not publish their results or might have less that accurate timing methods. It would be next to impossible to verify many marks and I am not sure how much I would trust some of them.

2. There are certain advantages to a 'championship' format rather having to make an absolute time standard. First, the format of qualifying via your district meet/tournament is generally how other sports championships work and it is also how track and field works at national level. You have to come in top three at the Olympic trials to make the Olympic team; it may be harsh but I it is part of the ethos of competition (e.g. you've got to deliver on the day). Second, focusing the whole season on a time standard for a particular event can really impact the 'fun' of the season and possibly hinder athlete development. In the current indoor format, there is a lot of pressure on athletes to focus on the events where they may set a qualifying mark. It is not in their short term interest to run or test out off events etc. The current outdoor format gives the coaches and athletes the opportunity to build and train for the end of the season when it really counts. It can be tough if you don't make it but that can happen in the other system too.

Personally, I think a move to at least three divisions (like XC) is in order. This will indirectly also have the impact of making the district meets a little less cut throat. Both Ohio and Illinois (just below PA in population) have three divisions. Also, I think it is common to go from district to regional/sectionals, then to state.
02/27/2020 3:27:04 PM
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I disagree with the way Virginia does quite a few things in regards to track and field but our state qualifying system is better than PA. For VA you can qualify by finishing top 3 in your region and advance to states or you can hit a state qualifying standard at any meet attended by 5 teams or more with FAT timing. The field sizes will fluctuate and each year the times change a little based off of the formula but it is a much more fair way to have all of the athletes who deserve to be at the meet there.
I disagree with the way Virginia does quite a few things in regards to track and field but our state qualifying system is better than PA. For VA you can qualify by finishing top 3 in your region and advance to states or you can hit a state qualifying standard at any meet attended by 5 teams or more with FAT timing. The field sizes will fluctuate and each year the times change a little based off of the formula but it is a much more fair way to have all of the athletes who deserve to be at the meet there.
02/28/2020 2:50:54 PM
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@Spriggle In one day Field Event Competitions: 3 attempts in the preliminary and 3 more for those that make the final and their best mark is their best mark from all 6 attempts including the 1st round. So marks made in the preliminary round carry over. In a competition that has a trial on one day and a final on another,many major Championships: they do not. The prelim is completed when the number of set qualifiers is reached. In the final it starts all over with 3 preliminary attempts and those that make the final get 3 more and no marks from the 1st day carry over. Since the PIAA State Outdoor Meet and most District State qualifying meets hold all the field events as one day competitions the first scenario applies even for those Districts that have 2 day meets, a particular field event is held and completed on one of those 2 days replicating the state meet . On Fri. Some AAA final events and some AA final events and they are reversed for Sat. In addition, I understand that at least some field events allow the participant to have a higher mark/distance in the preliminary round than what they obtain in the final round and STILL have the earlier/preliminary number count as their best mark?
@Spriggle

In one day Field Event Competitions: 3 attempts in the preliminary and 3 more for those that make the final and their best mark is their best mark from all 6 attempts including the 1st round. So marks made in the preliminary round carry over. In a competition that has a trial on one day and a final on another,many major Championships: they do not. The prelim is completed when the number of set qualifiers is reached. In the final it starts all over with 3 preliminary attempts and those that make the final get 3 more and no marks from the 1st day carry over. Since the PIAA State Outdoor Meet and most District State qualifying meets hold all the field events as one day competitions the first scenario applies even for those Districts that have 2 day meets, a particular field event is held and completed on one of those 2 days replicating the state meet . On Fri. Some AAA final events and some AA final events and they are reversed for Sat.

In addition, I understand that at least some field events allow the participant to have a higher mark/distance in the preliminary round than what they obtain in the final round and STILL have the earlier/preliminary number count as their best mark?
04/20/2020 3:45:42 PM
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One solution is to follow the NCAA method and have some kind of Provisional time set that if accomplished at any Invite could qualify the person to states. Because it would be a provisional time the PIAA would still have the flexibility to insure only the top 24 or 16 in the state qualify for each event. The idea of three classifications makes sense except you would have to figure out of way to get them all done in one weekend. In Illinois the girls meet is held a week before the boys meet in order to make it work.
One solution is to follow the NCAA method and have some kind of Provisional time set that if accomplished at any Invite could qualify the person to states. Because it would be a provisional time the PIAA would still have the flexibility to insure only the top 24 or 16 in the state qualify for each event. The idea of three classifications makes sense except you would have to figure out of way to get them all done in one weekend. In Illinois the girls meet is held a week before the boys meet in order to make it work.
04/20/2020 3:50:17 PM
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@SRhurdleguy I'm curious, how many kids that would medal are missing the State meet in a given year? I honestly think they way we qualify is pretty fair all things considered. It's no different from our Olympic Trials, which I'd argue is one of the best meets around.
@SRhurdleguy

I'm curious, how many kids that would medal are missing the State meet in a given year? I honestly think they way we qualify is pretty fair all things considered. It's no different from our Olympic Trials, which I'd argue is one of the best meets around.
04/21/2020 9:00:34 AM
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The Olympic trials is not an accurate analogy for several reasons. I will only spotlight one. The district meets are held all over the state and not in one place. Often times the eastern half is 2 or 3 weeks ahead when it comes to the weather. Thus while it might be 60 degrees out East for a district meet out in the West it often is in the thirties or forties. It is not all that uncommon to have a bit of snow. In other words it is far more difficult to hit a State qualifying time in that weather than it is for the person competing in mild weather. I once saw three girls who had all ran in the low 14s in the high hurdles all fail to break 16 in the finals of district due to the wind and cold. The one who won finished second at states the next week (ran 14.1) while the other two had to stay home even though both would likely have medaled if they had advanced. This happens more than you think. I realize no plan is perfect when it comes to qualifying for states but I do think some positive changes could be made. With FAT timing at most all the invites it is now possible to adopt a system more like what they do in college.
The Olympic trials is not an accurate analogy for several reasons. I will only spotlight one. The district meets are held all over the state and not in one place. Often times the eastern half is 2 or 3 weeks ahead when it comes to the weather. Thus while it might be 60 degrees out East for a district meet out in the West it often is in the thirties or forties. It is not all that uncommon to have a bit of snow. In other words it is far more difficult to hit a State qualifying time in that weather than it is for the person competing in mild weather. I once saw three girls who had all ran in the low 14s in the high hurdles all fail to break 16 in the finals of district due to the wind and cold. The one who won finished second at states the next week (ran 14.1) while the other two had to stay home even though both would likely have medaled if they had advanced. This happens more than you think. I realize no plan is perfect when it comes to qualifying for states but I do think some positive changes could be made. With FAT timing at most all the invites it is now possible to adopt a system more like what they do in college.

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