9 Track and Field issues to be addressed in Illinois

ITCCCA Coaching Blogs, Illinois HS Track & Field, Opinion 12 Comments

By Mike Garcia
Lanphier High School
Springfield, Illinois

I have coached for a long time and have never written anything for the website. If you are looking for an article as enlightening as Tony Holler’s, or informative as Jim Aikens throwing articles, you will be disappointed.

I am not a great writer — My purpose is to point out issues in our sport that may or may not need to be answered in the near future.


Heat winners versus the Top 9 in the sprints and relays
I have sat through many meetings discussing this point. Our sport rewards winning but not every heat is the same even with varying wind speeds and questionable seed times. If the top seed false starts, drops a baton or is disqualified the concept of the best is shot.

Tony Holler photo


High Jump Coaching at State
I have coached the high jump for a long time. It is the only field event you cannot coach at the state meet. Throws coaches can do their thing, vaulters and horizontal jump coaches can converse with their athletes. High jump coaches cannot get to the area to advise their athletes. I do not have an answer except allow the coaches work with their kids somehow. In a perfect world the high jump area would be outside the stadium allowing it to be changed for the wind if it is needed. Also would benefit the jumpers who start on the track during the running events if it were away from the track.


Integrity in Coaching
For years I have observed certain sectionals annually post times that are almost world class. Who cannot forget the 10.0 100 meter in the 90’s? In the era of automatic timing this has been drastically diminished from my point of view. Yet, it still exists and it is a concern when the I.H.S.A. utilizes an average of the 21st sectional effort to determine the state-qualifying standard. If inaccurate times are used it increases the standard for everyone involved in the event.

How does this occur? It has been said sometimes the system operator doesn’t have the race captured so they hit a button, which uses hand times. Easy solution is to recall the race with an air horn the instant it is not captured. Also, have the meet referee review files of any race with extra qualifiers. Call the official over to see the results. Make sure things are legitimate.

Tony Holler photo


Relay officiating
Please make sure the athletes are not standing with their butts in other lanes. Be proactive in your work. See Tony Holler’s blogs for more information. Officials need to be absolutely sure kids are not changing hands with the baton or repositioning the baton in their hand before disqualifying a team.


Alternate the 2A and 3A prelims
I have seen many posts on social media that this would benefit both classes. I for one would not object to it. Bringing your athletes to the track at 7:00 for competition, which is difficult considering the lines in the cafeteria. Open the cafeterias earlier or start the jumps at 8:30.


Rules video for coaches
We are in the era of visual learners. Adding to the rules video the “butt out” relay issue and where to place your relay markers should be explained. Lastly, reinforce the no marks within two meters of the cross bar in the high jump through the video.


Sectional Entry System
Sectionals in many parts of the involve teams from great distances. Often, you may never see a team in any meets. Putting the name and the date of the meet allows coaches to see where the mark was attained that season. I would imagine it could be done with ease. I think the few that still lie
on seed times would be less likely to lie if they knew this was required.


Electronic start versus traditional starting gun
I had two children who were age group swimmers. I was used to their starting gun. I also know that shells are getting very expensive, we host on average eight meets a year — that’s a lot of shells in one spring. Our athletic director would like us to go to a cheaper system. My feelings are not until all the other sectionals do the same thing. I also have not seen the new system used in an outdoor meet to pass judgment on the system.


Seed Meetings
Earlier, I stated I was a veteran coach. I have enjoyed the seed meetings I have attended over the years. Early in my career they were very lengthy until the start of online entries. If I were in the Southwest Conference (Edwardsville, etc.) I would not go to Moline; it is 240 miles one way. I think much of the meeting can be determined prior to the meet: Work assignments, games committee, starting heights, etc. The officials and their numbers can all be sent out prior to the meet. A group teleconference can be set up for the remainder of the items that are up for discussion. I think a seed meeting has an important function on our sport but sometimes it is impossible to attend the meeting.


In an era where sportsmanship seems to be at an all time low in many sports I must say I appreciate the friendship I believe most of us have developed over the years. The coaching fraternity in our state is solid and I for one appreciate the camaraderie that has developed over the years. We share information and appreciate each other’s efforts. With that being said congrats to all the teams who earned a trophy and individuals who earned medals at the state meet.

Mike Garcia was elected to the ITCCCA Hall of Fame in 2009

Comments 12

  1. I think for high jump, the issue could be solved very easily, all they would have to do is create 2 coaches boxes, one for right footed jumpers and left footed jumpers, and then allow 1 coach to check-in with an athlete when they enter the stadium for competition. If the IHSA wants what’s best for the kids, this needs to happen.

  2. Multiple qualification meets! Why put it all on one night. Too many examples of poor sectionals and state caliber kids not qualifying. Big time invites should be qualifying meets.

    1. Could not agree with this more!!!!! We ran a sectional one night on a Thursday where the high was 55 during the day. We had seven athletes with below state times entered in the 200. Only 2 qualified for the events some of the top sprinters in the state did not go. The next day it was in the 80’s!!!!!!

  3. You bring up some excellent points MIke. I certainly hope the IHSA takes a look and thinks about some of the items you have brought up. With new leadership comes new possibilities.

  4. Mike, I agree with most points. I have always said that there should be a coaching box for high jump. In regards to the electronic pistol, I have one and it is horrible. It comes down to the sound output. In order for it to work satisfactory, you need to have an excellent speaker system. In my opinion, I could see it being used for races 800 meters or longer, but use a gun for everything 400 or lower including relays.

    Eliminate the sectional seed meeting. Technology has made this irreverent. 20 years ago coaches showed up at a seed meeting with note cards holding their entries, each coach had to choose an event to seed, an athletic secretary would type it all up. It was a two hour process. Now a seed meeting consists of coaches coming in, making changes (if any), and the timer or host hits a button and the meet is seeded. Games committees are chosen and starting heights determined. All of this takes a half hour to 45 minutes. Some coaches have to drive for a longer amount of time than the meeting takes. All of this could be done online and in the pre meet meeting.

  5. Can’t a seed meeting be done by a conference call on computers with all head coaches?

    The Eastern Illinois University track has an area called the in field that high jump coaches could be in during the state meet. Set up a roped off area like we do during the Sectional meets for these coaches only.

    One point not made is the unsafe start for the 1600m and 3200m now. No international meet has 24 athletes start on a curve using a waterfall start in the 1600m. The pushing and shoving that can occur at the start is dangerous and not fair to the athletes.

  6. Yes on that one for high jump. Check a coach into the coaching box.

    On butt out, unless you have a local rule, so long as you don’t interfere, where is the infraction?

    I think it should just be top nine.

    Seed times is easily fixed, require all qualifying times to come via athletic.net and use that as an entry system.

    On hand times penalize them by adding 4 tenths to the hand time. You should recall, certainly. Once you penalize, it will stop happening.

Leave a Reply

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