CATEGORY: RUN Track & Field
HIGH SCHOOL TRACK ADDS REGIONAL TO QUALIFYING
By D.E. Wheeler
A new terminology enters the high school postseason vocabulary this week in Mississippi track.
Sandwiched between the division meets and the north half meets, Northeast Mississippi schools will be involved in the first regional track meets Friday.
“This will help make for a better state meet,” Tupelo track coach coach Jamie Mitchell said, echoing the sentiments of other coaches on the regional meet. “It gives the deserving kids a much better chance to make it to the state meet, and you’re not going to find anybody who’s not suppose to be there.”
In recent years, Mississippi high school track had three postseason meets division, north and south half and the state meet for each classification. In the division meet, two athletes (teams in relay events) from each event qualified for their north or south half, then four from each half qualified for the state meet.
But over the years with this system, many coaches in the state had hard luck stories about this setup. The basic example would be kids from their division placing third or fourth in the division meet who could conceivably place that high or win their event at the state meet.
“The bottom line is to get the best quality kids to the state meet,” said Pontotoc track coach Chris Coleman.
With the addition of the regional meet, four athletes from each event qualified last week in the various division meets. This week, those four compete in a two-divison regional meet.
Four from the regional meet qualify for the north or south half meet May 4, then four from each half qualify for the state meet May 10-11.
“I like this idea. I like taking four out of the division because it takes so much pressure off the division meet,” said Coleman, who has previously coached four state championship track teams, two at Pontotoc and two at Tupelo. “In the past, I felt if a kid got out of division, they had a chance to win at the state meet.”
Both Coleman and Mitchell are hosting their respective regional meets Friday. The 3A regional at Pontotoc High School starts at 11 a.m. with field events, then the first running event at 1:30 p.m.
At Tupelo High School, Mitchell will be hosting his 5A regional meet, and the 2A regional meet, with field events starting at 4 p.m. and the first running event starting at 5:30 p.m. Other regional meet sites for most area schools are Class 4A at Ole Miss and 1A at Corinth Friday.