Saturday, April 12, 2014

Qualifying Meet Rules

The Qualifying meet is the first of three weekends of championships. There's a number of rules and tweaks we make starting with this meet...

Clear the field, clear the track

We have to crack down on athletes camping on the field, and coaches and parents on the field without authorization. Now more than ever: stay in the stands unless you're on the field to sign in or compete.

All pop-up tents and umbrellas need to be off the field -- set up camp in the back row of the stands, or outside the track fence.

Coaches can not be on the field shouting split times, and athletes cannot pace alongside their buddies. Both are grounds for disqualifying the athlete.

Second grade promotions

Starting at this meet, all second-grade athletes automatically become third graders. They will line up with and compete as third graders for the remaining meets. This is pretty cool news for second-graders.

No away-side sprints, no track sharing

To ensure that all athletes are getting a fair rest period, and that all timing and judging is done the same way, the 50m and 100m events will be run on the "home" side of the track, in the standard order -- girls 50m, boys 50m, girls 100m, boys 100m. This unavoidably pushes out the length of the meet.

Also, we won't run multi-grade heats, except for a little combining in the mile. Even then, the heats will be kept small and be single-gender.

Field events will close by grade

When a field event closes to a grade, it's closed. Listen for the calls. I know this is tricky with our anemic PA system in the vast open spaces of YVH. Sit where you can hear the announcer, especially if your athlete is going to do a field event.

Athletes must check in to a field event when it opens to their grade so we know they intend to compete. They can leave to run a race, but have to report back right after to finish up.

We will be periodically gathering up sheets from the field events after the final calls are made. Once the sheets leave the event, it's closed to that grade.

Here's a simplified call sheet for the meet if you want to follow along with the announcer:

Race events close, too

We can't squeeze in athletes after the sheets leave the clerks' clipboards. Listen for the calls, and don't be late.

Three individual events, maximum

The "two and one" rule applies at all our meets, but is enforced at the qualifying meet with the possibility of disqualification. Don't risk it!

Athletes may compete in at most:
  • two individual races and one field event, OR
  • two field events, and one individual race
Relay participation does not count toward the three, but there's special relay rules, too...

"Pure" relay teams

Relay teams may now only contain athletes of the same gender, parish, and grade. This means the end of mix-and-match teams, and is tough news to swallow for smaller parishes in the league.

On our team, St. Catherine and St. Stephen's athletes tend to suffer the most from this rule, but every team in the league has to obey it. It makes all multi-parish coaches equally grumpy.

Strict relay judging

At this meet, we disqualify relay teams for passing outside the zone or their lane, or for impeding other teams. Dropped batons and lousy passes are still fine, as long as they're in the zone and not in another team's way.

Extra relay judge volunteers will be stationed at the corners to help out.

Relay teams qualify as a group

This is a strange one. When a relay team qualifies, it is the team that progresses, regardless of the athletes within that team. So, if "Our Lady of Example" has the fastest 4x100 team of 5th grade girls, a spot is reserved for them at the Sectional meet. Their coach has the option to run different girls the following week on that team, if they so choose.

What this means for you: if your athlete runs on a victorious relay team but will miss the Sectional meet on May 3rd, tell the coach right away. We can try to find a substitute athlete to swap in, obeying always the team-purity rule.

In general, coaches try to keep successful relay teams together, because they've earned it. This rule lets us do swaps due to illness or other issues.

4x400 relay restrictions

As if that wasn't enough, only the topmost teams overall progress in the 4x400 event, regardless of grade. I believe we allow athletes to "run up" for this event as a higher grade without affecting their other events, but I will get clarification from the league to be sure.

This relay has sparse participation in general, so I don't think this is inconveniencing anyone.

Combined results and eliminations

Normally we place athletes according to their finishing position in their heat -- which popsicle stick they are handed at the end of each race.

At qualifying, the final placement is determined by overall best time across all heats. Starting at this meet, holding the #1 stick still means an athlete finished first in the heat, but not necessarily in the event. We don't do seeded heats at the qualifying meet.

In all events, only the top three finishes overall will progress to the Sectional meet the following week. We won't know the top three until all the results are processed by the league.

Athletes and coaches: please don't hover around the recorders' table! Patience, as they say, is a virtue. Do your best to be virtuous and not annoy the recorders and proofreaders. We'll disqualify anyone who's annoying the recorders.


The fourth place finisher in events is called the "alternate," and if one of the top three is unable to compete at Sectionals, the league has a process to choose an alternate to step in.

There is never a guarantee that an alternate will compete. The assignment of alternates into a competition position is hashed out at a coordinator's seeding meeting, and is done through a rotation process both arcane and mystical.

All events may have alternates, even relays. Specific events handle the placement of alternates differently. You'll see all the qualifiers and the alternates when the results are posted online.

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