Sunday, April 22, 2012

Track News for April 22, 2012

* Practice Meet #4

Wow, what a great day. After all the rain this year, I didn't think we'd see a meet like Saturday's. Abundant sunshine, occasional breezes, blue skies. That's what I signed on for.  This was our last meet at Ygnacio Valley this season, and it was a great sendoff. We certainly appreciate their hospitality and especially their students-for-hire.

If you have an outstanding payment to make for a YVH student, please get it to me as soon as possible. Checks should be made out to "CTK CYO" to reimburse the team, since I've already paid for the athletes. The YVH boosters appreciate your support!

* Relay Meet Results

It seems like there were a lot of hiccups in the results from the relay meet on 21st. I'm having the coaches look over the results from the data-entry people. If your athlete competed at the relay meet and is missing a ribbon, please let me know their name and what event they ran and I'll mark it on the sheet. The spreadsheet of results is online, and I've already made some corrections. I appreciate your patience as we try to get these sorted out.

* Volunteers

We need you at the Qualifying meet! Please drop Katy a note and let her know if you can take a shift or two. Don't forget the "super-helpful family" drawing at the end of the season...

We could especially use help with relay judging, backup timer (using a stopwatch), and cleanup crew at the end of the meet. Trust me: working a job makes the meet go faster.

* Qualifying Meet

Our next meet is at DVC, and is the beginning of the "championship" meets for the league. There are a number of different things that happen starting with this meet:

- Participation

Athletes must participate in the Qualifying meet to be eligible to proceed to the Sectional meet the following week. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even for athletes or siblings attending a first communion ceremony. Our league officials want me to remind you that participating in a holy sacrament is much more significant than running a relay race. I know that this affects a few families on our team -- I'm sorry. Please try to enjoy your child's first communion anyway.

If you think it is likely that your athlete will finish in the top of their events at the Qualifying meet but are certain that you will not be able to go to Sectionals, let me and the athlete's primary coach know. This may open up a chance for another athlete to attend in their place.

- Promotions

Second-grade athletes (and younger) now compete as third-graders. Coaches will do their best to remind the athletes of their new grown-up status. This means that their finish times and field events will also be measured against third graders.

- Place

Only the top three finishers in an event -- plus one alternate -- are eligible to continue to the next week's meet. Place is determined overall for an event, not within the heat. So, in events of more than one heat, it is only the top three finishers (and one alternate) who may progress. Even if your athlete finished first in her 100m heat, she may still have come in fifth overall across all the 100m heats in her age group. You'll need to wait for the final results to be posted before making plans to attend the Sectional meet.

Results from the Qualifying meet are a little more particular and gone over more carefully than those from a practice meet: I'll let you know when they're available.

- Pure Relays

Starting with the qualifying meet, all relay teams must be gender-, grade-, and parish-pure. So, we can no longer form a single team assembled from CTK, SC, and SS athletes. Instead, everyone in a relay team needs to be wearing the same shirt, and be the same age group, and use the same restroom. This affects the smallest parishes the most, since they are unlikely to have four-of-a-kind to make up many teams.

The only modification to this rule is for the Medley relay, which is allowed to consist of same-parish, same-gender athletes of multiple grades. The team runs as the grade of the oldest member of the team. The diocese does not yet recognize the Medley as an event -- a sore point for many of the coordinators in our league! -- so we are given a little leeway.

- And More...

Unlike individual events, whole relay teams are given a berth in the Sectional, subject to the limits above. So, a top-finishing St. Catherine relay team would qualify -- as a team -- to run the next week, though the roster or order of athletes on that team may be changed in times of need. This is rare, and is mostly something that the coaches worry about. Coaches' decisions about members of a relay team and their order are final. I will be happy to listen to you if you feel that your athlete has been slighted, but I am very likely to side with the coach. If your athlete is on a qualifying relay team and can't make the Sectional, then you definitely need to let me and their primary coach know at once so we can place an alternate.

These meets are also when relay judging gets much more particular, especially regarding baton hand-offs. There are judges stationed at the corners to watch the passes and to ensure that they are taking place within the boundaries. There's usually at least one team disqualification during these meets because of passes outside of the zone or crossing over lanes. DQs can be very upsetting to the athletes and their families, but please do not take a disqualification as an invitation to harass, berate, insult, or yell at judges, timers, or any other volunteer at the meet. That's a good way to get evicted from the meet and get your athlete -- or even the whole track team -- disqualified.

This is where that "keep perspective" speech I gave back in the parent's meeting really applies. Comfort the team as best you can, remember that everyone on the track is a volunteer who gave up their weekend to stand in the hot sun and watch children hand a piece of aluminum to each other, then search for "relay baton drop" on YouTube and remember that it even happens in the Olympics. CYO is a recreational, church-affiliated youth track league; we're a long way from the Olympics. Perspective!

- Event Limits

As always, athletes must follow the "2-and-1" plan for events: participate in a maximum of two individual running events and one field event, or two field events and one individual running event. There are no limits to the number of relay teams an athlete may belong to, as long as it is a legal team. Athletes doing more than the allowed number of individual events may be disqualified from all of their events.

One extra wrinkle: starting with the Sectional meet, distance runners must choose to either compete in the 800m or the 1600m, but not both. Normally this isn't a problem, but there's usually a few die-hards that love to run both. Sorry, die-hards: you need to pick one. The 800m/1600m are run on the Friday evening before the remainder of the Sectional meet, and this pattern is repeated the following week at the Diocese final. To recap: you may qualify in both, but you have to choose one for the Sectional meet, and let me and your primary coach know so we can promote an alternate for the other event.

- Boy, That's Harsh

This may seem unnecessarily severe for a sport (and team) that prides itself on inclusiveness and "everybody tries" but remember: every weekend there are three league meets held of about 450 athletes each. From those we need to focus down to the top athletes in our section (Section 1) to compete against the top athletes in the other two sections of the Oakland diocese.  It's quite a production. If anything, the meets from here on out get bigger.

If your athletes are discouraged to have their season end this week or next because of schedule conflicts, religious ceremonies, injury, or whatever other reason, I completely empathize, and take that as a good sign -- they like track and their track friends, and will miss it. We'll miss them, too. But don't put those shoes away yet!

* Practices

Regardless of any athlete's results, whether they qualified or not, practice goes on as usual at College Park. Even if an athlete's competitive season is over for the year, we'd love to see them at practice. We practice right up to the bitter end, to the Thursday before the Diocese.

There's only six practices left! Please come out and help me use up my remaining Starburst stockpile and give the coaches something to do in the evenings.

* The Future

What's next? The Sectional meet and the Diocese championship are coming up fast, and our end-of-season potluck picnic and awards ceremony happens in June. And if you really want to plan ahead, the cross-country team starts up in August. More on all these exciting things in future newsletters. If your athletes are doing very well in these meets, expect Katy and I to come knocking on your email asking which jobs we can sign you up for at these additional meets. Yes, this counts as being super-helpful.

I have a Diocese meet flyer that I just received in email, I'll post it on the site and send the details around when it's online. And that's more than enough reading for this week!

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