The DeKalb Debacle

Tony Holler Coaching Blogs 2 Comments

I just spoke to a coach from the DeKalb Sectional who will remain anonymous.  His team is returning to DeKalb to complete the suspended Sectional.

Here is the story.

The F.A.T. system was run by Sycamore H.S. and had been efficient and trustworthy in the past.  When the first race was completed, the video of the finish could not be captured.  The IHSA official ruled that Huntley and McHenry had finished 1-2 and would qualify for state.  However, since there was no official time, Huntley and McHenry would be seeded as N.T. (no time) next week.

The casualty was Crystal Lake South who had a hand time of 7:56.80, good enough to qualify for state.  However, with no “official F.A.T.”, the rules state that only the first and second place teams qualify.  Reportedly an IHSA official stated “Life isn’t fair.”  (And he’s right.)

The slow heat of the 4×1 was completed without issue.

The fast heat of the 4×1 was another epic failure of technology.

The coach I spoke to used an app on his phone to record a near-perfect FAT time.  The times of the top four teams would have qualified for state.

  • DeKalb 41.7
  • Huntley 42.2 or Auburn 42.2
  • Grant 42.4

However, since the FAT video was not captured and 2nd place was in doubt, everything was up for grabs.  The coaches totally agreed that four teams had run qualifying time but that doesn’t matter.

The slow heat of the 3200 was on the track for 90 minutes as coaches and officials tried to sort things out.  The rule is clear.  Without FAT, only two teams qualify.  The IHSA ruling was correct.  Without knowing the 2nd place finisher, the race is lost.

The meet resumes today at 10:00 AM.  Can you imagine?

The 4×8 will feature Crystal Lake South trying to qualify in the 4×8 without the Huntley and McHenry.  Huntley and McHenry have already qualified.  It is possible other teams could choose not to run.  It is conceivable that Crystal Lake South could run the 4×8 alone.

The slow heat of the 4×1 will be re-run, even though FAT worked for that heat.

The fast heat of the 4×1 will feature four of the state’s fastest teams.  All four ran qualifying time last night but may not today.  A baton could be dropped.

The FAT today will be a new system.  Again, the system will be run by a high school … or multiple systems by multiple high schools.

I’m not fan of the IHSA but Ron McGraw is not to blame here.  Technology is to blame.

Neuqua Valley paid $2000 to have the best FAT outfit in the midwest.  No problems at the Neuqua Sectional.  Chris Arnold of Endurance Race Timing is the best money can buy.

The coach I spoke to made a great comment.  The FAT rules disallowing hand-held times and common sense qualifications are in place because coaches have cheated at Sectionals for 20 years.  In the past, we’d see those Sectionals where everyone qualifies with gaudy times.  Those fictitious times didn’t hold up at the state meet.

Technology is a monster in this Orwellian world.

Good luck to those 4×1 teams today.  Good luck to the 4×8 team from Crystal Lake South.  The track & field world will be pulling for you.

Thank God the weather is good.


Update Sunday May 23 –

Crystal Lake South did not run qualifying 4×8 time on Saturday.  There was talk of submitting a video to the IHSA.  On Twitter, the hashtag #letCLSrun was trending.  Two years ago, the IHSA allowed two girls 4×8 teams (Rock Falls and Kaneland) to qualify for state after placing 3rd and 4th at the Freeport Sectional, despite FAT failure.

Crystal Lake South has WON their appeal and will complete at the state meet.  I repeat, CLS won their appeal.  The IHSA will let the CLS 4×8 run at state.

If Crystal Lake South is allowed to compete at the state meet, how about the 4×1 teams?

DeKalb reportedly ran 41.70 on Friday night and there is video from the stands.  41.70 would rank #3 in the state, ahead of my team, Plainfield North 41.72.  DeKalb would be granted the top seed (lane-5) in heat-2 at the state prelims.  However, DeKalb ran 42.49 Saturday.  The FAT time from day #2 of the Sectional will result in a lane-3 situation for DeKalb with my team in lane-5.  Since CLS won their appeal, does DeKalb win too?

And how about Auburn and Grant who reportedly qualified in the 4×1 on Friday but failed on Saturday?  Do they win their appeal?  If there is video from the stands, do we have all the evidence we need?

Maybe DeKalb, Auburn, and Grant will never make an appeal.  I’ve seen no hashtags trending on Twitter.

The precedent of letting Crystal Lake South run will have ripple effects for years to come.

No track meet is allowed to use video from the stands, even if “common sense” is involved.  Has this changed?

The FAT rule is perfectly clear … no FAT, only two advance.  Is this still the rule?  Is there now an addendum to the rule … “In the case of FAT failure, video can be submitted to the IHSA to prove qualifying times.”

I commend the IHSA for siding with kids.  I love common sense decisions.  I’m not big on written rules and written consequences.  I wish common sense would have been used when the IHSA disqualified Zion Mason back in 2013.  See Tribute to Zion.

The one lesson we can all learn, spend the money and get reliable FAT.




Comments 2

  1. You always hate seeing technology being used against you. We had the opposite thing happen to us – human error (actually “inaction”).

    At our first tournament stop (in Indiana) the third runner on my 4 x 400 relay team was literally run 5 feet off the track into the crowd of officials and athletes gathered at the exchange zone by a “relieved” runner from the host school. My kid moved into lane 1 to avoid running into the back of the other runner only to have the other guy move from lane 2 across lane 1 into my guy, knocking him off the track – an obvious violation of Rule 5, Section 9, Article 1 regarding interference by a competitor and Rule 5, Section 10, Article 8 regarding what actions a relieved competitor can do after passing off the baton.

    My kid was literally shoved into a meet official observing the exchange zone. The official actually pointed my guy back onto the track!

    No call was made ether way.

    After the event concluded my protest/ appeal was disallowed because no call had been made in the first place. To add insult to injury, the starter said my kid caused the contact by changing lanes – yes, he actually said that. I then pulled out my rule book (I have an e-copy on my cell phone) and read to him chapter & verse regarding interference. My sprint coach said the starter basically admitted he saw something.

    At the exchange we were sitting in 2nd place amid 5 other teams. By the time my guy got back on the track we had dropped to 7th place. While it didn’t change the outcome of the meet, the 3-4 seconds we lost on the exchange cost my relay team a berth in the next level of the tournament. We probably would have finished 2nd overall in the race and possibly 1st because another team was DQ’d for cutting in too soon but ended up 4th.

    The next day my A.D. said two things – 1) “You handled the situation very well” and 2) that he had also spoke to the starter and told him he wouldn’t be getting any recommendations from us in the future because he obviously mis-interpreted the rule – we get to grade officials.

  2. Coach,

    I just read your article online and we had the same issue at our Champaign Central Sectional that was ran on a Wednesday for some apparent reason. The gun goes off to start the 4×8 the timing system did not start. They finally got the runners stopped before the break line and they came back to start again. Fast heat of the 110 hurdles, kids are in the zone, gun goes off and timing system does not start. The kids don’t stop, run the entire race. We clearly see who the top two were, but officials said we would run the 4 heats of the 100 then come back and run the 110 hurdle race over again. I was praying that my kid who finished 2nd in the first race would not hit a hurdle in the 2nd race. In the fast heat of the 100, the starter did not have the hammer pulled all the way back and the gun clicked kids heard it and took off. Finally got everyone stopped about halfway down the track. We had an official starter, but he was training a lady to also be a starter. At the sectional track meet are you serious???

    Field events started at 5pm. We were still triple jumping at 9:30pm!! Same with shot put. Should schools with only one runway be allowed to host a sectional?

    Needless to say several coaches lost their composure that night. Champaign Central’s assistant coach was running the FAT system. After several coaches got upset did our kids times pay the price? You still have to determine at what time athletes crossed the finish line. Should host schools staff be allowed to run the FAT system? Could there be some bias there?

    Hopefully, we can find answers to our problems before next season. It is supposed to be about the kids correct, and trying to get them to State??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *