Carry the Torch

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    Ryan Banta on #18032

    In our current media we see a number of debates like can Tebow succeed in the NFL, who screwed up the country Democrat/Republican, BCS or Playoff, etc. In the grand scheme of our daily lives sports are supposed to be an escape from the dirty world of politics. However, there are moments when everyone will be asked to take a stand for something they believe in and leave the debating for talk shows.

    Continue reading…

    "Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse." -Albert Einstein

    rcfan2 on #113148


    If you’re going to swing, then swing for the fence 🙂 Read David Kvidahl’s article “Level Playing Field”.

    Every state high school association faces this same challenge. In Illinois – it’s only the top 2 finishers at Sectionals that are guaranteed to advance to State (we don’t have Regionals). Other athletes can advance if they meet or exceed a pre-established “auto-qualifying” mark for their event. So our system is similar to what you’re proposing. Our auto-qualifying marks are reviewed and adjusted by the IHSA (although I’m not sure of the underlying math).

    Illinois recently expanded from a 2 class to a 3 class system for T&F. So the IHSA continues to tweak these numbers almost yearly. Complicating matters – they continue to juggle the enrollment cut-off numbers for each class as they try to get the numbers right for each class. Compounding this – Illinois also applies a multiplier to non-boundaried (typically private) schools.

    To further muddy the waters – they also came up with an automatic waiver system for multiplied schools for all sports for this year – so if a school has a history of being unsuccessful (they have several “triggers”) – they won’t be multiplied. Of course, what this really means is that teams that are successful (or too successful) get multiplied (punished) – everyone else gets a waiver. And once you’re multiplied – it’s up to 5 years before the “trigger” rolls off (say you win a Sectional or finish in the top 3 twice in a 5 year period).

    And because this wasn’t enough for a school to consider – each sport, by gender, is considered separately! So you can have a 1A girl’s team and a 2A boy’s team – if you’re enrollment x the multiplier pushes them into the next class. This happened to us in XC, basketball, etc.

    Certainly this complex solution must be fair (and I pitty the person who has to track all of this for the IHSA).

    However, as you probably know, weather in the upper mid-west is sketchy at best in the spring when Sectionals roll around. Schools in the southern or central part of the state often enjoy much more favorable weather than those of us up north (we’re 15 minute from Wisconsin). Last year it was cold, windy and raining at our Girl’s Sectional – while it was 20 degrees warmer (and not raining) at Sectionals in the southern part of the state.

    Needless to say, our Sectional had exactly zero athletes or relays finish 3rd or lower run, jump or throw the auto-qualifer. None. Yet one of the other girl’s Sectionals south of us had 9 auto-qualifiers advance – along with the 1st and 2nd place winners.

    Hopefully Illinois will mandate FAT at all Sectional meets – eliminating suspect converted hand times…another problem.

    Guess the point is, there’s no perfect system, especially when mother nature becomes a factor. Still…thing can be done to make things better…if not perfect. Be wary of a complex solution to a simple problem…

    Wish you luck…

    Ryan Banta on #113149

    Obviously, I read the article it was me in the article after all! (: Our system is a little bit different we have a district meet with top 4 moving on. Then we have two districts that combined into a sectional. The new system would call for the same four regional qualifiers from the each sectional and anyone else who hits the standard based off the last three years 8th place performance. This spring we will vote on moving that number of years to ten allowing for more consistancy. With a smaller population four classes and no tweaking our system I believe that makes this change a lot easier. Thanks for the heads up.


    Ryan Banta

    "Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse." -Albert Einstein

    rcfan2 on #113158

    Ryan – hah…poor choice of words – I meant it in the past tense…as I had “read” the article. Sorry if I implied you need to “read” it!

    Hard to believe with all the support you have – that it wasn’t adopted.

    Illinois continues to try to appease everyone…

    I know some states have tried different methods of including “next best” athletes in some fashion – including adding athletes after the Sectionals are over (next best finishers throughout the state – based on time, distance, height).

    Honestly, I can accept our “top 2” and all auto-qualifiers – despite mother nature throwing us a curve ball up north. At least we know, at the end of the meet, who’s going to state and who’s not. And as a coach – I like having an auto-qualifier mark. It gives us a measurable goal – run the number or jump the height. During the season, we have a benchmark to shoot for and we know when we close in on it. Once a kid hits the auto-qualifier during the season, even though it doesn’t transfer to Sectionals or State, it’s a big confidence booster. They know that if they run the number their going – regardless if they finish 1st or 4th.

    I had two boy 300m hurdlers finish 2nd and 3rd at our Sectional – both running under the auto-qualifier (the meet was FAT). They both ended up seeded in the top 10 at State based on their Sectional times. Without the auto-qualifier – our 3rd place hurdler, despite running a top-10 time – would have stayed home. Based on Sectional seeds, we knew going in that the 3rd place finisher would have run the qualifier – and he did it.

    Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of the new waiver policy (I coach at a private school). For T&F the trigger is based on team two (2) top 3 Sectional finishes or a top 3 at State in the last 5 years.

    Our girls team, based on their 2nd place finish at Sectionals last year, tripped the “top 3” trigger. So they’re multiplied for the next 4-5 years – long enough that this year’s incoming freshman will never run 1A T&F before the graduate. And guess how many girls we sent to State last year? Three… We scored a lot of 3rd & 4th place finishes at Sectionals – helping our team score but not advancing athletes to State. Teams below us sent far more athletes (individuals and relays) than we did.

    And this leads to my next gripe – even if we win Sectionals as a team – we don’t send the team to state – only individuals. So a teams success at Sectionals may have little bearing on what happens at the State meet.

    Ironically, our boys team didn’t even win Sectionals – finishing 2nd by a staggering 75 points – but went on to finish 3rd at State as a team! The team that beat us by 75? They finished 6th at State. Again…the teams don’t advance…only the individuals. So our qualifiers were better than theirs at State – but they were a much deeper team.

    Heaven forbid – that down the road once the multiplier rolls off (assuming we don’t achieve the same level of success in 2A) – and we fall back to 1A – and we’re faced with another potential top-3 finish again at Sectionals. Do we pull your 4×400 off the track to avoid earning a 3rd place team finish – which will cause you another 5 years of multiplier purgatory?

    Again…I wish you luck… You approach seems sound and logical… And Tebow won again!

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