Case Study: Track Surface Tension in Tennessee


Surface Tension

In an article published after last year's TSSAA Track and Field State Championship, I focused on the lack of consideration the Division I running sports in Tennessee received when the new classifications were released. A "Large School" Division was created in which Bartlett High School, 2513 students, and Sycamore High School, 760 students, were in direct competition with each other. Earlier this year, the Mid-Cycle enrollment numbers were released and the difference in students in Large School Division I only grew. Bartlett rose in enrollment to 2722 students while Sycamore dropped to 706. Not to mention, Collierville surpassed Bartlett as the largest enrollment in the state with 2766. For this track season as well as the next two, all of these schools will be considered "Large Schools."

However, this article will not focus on enrollment. Last Monday marked the first day official Track and Field competitions in Tennessee could be contested. As of this morning, results from only 20 meets have been posted/reported to our database with anywhere from 3 to 20 teams competing at each since. It would be safe to estimate that less than half of the 320+ TSSAA "Participating Schools" have competed this season. With the yearly average of Tennessee High School Track and Field participants approaching 6000 athletes I wouldn't contribute this lack of available meets to lack of available teams to compete against but rather lack of locations to compete at. Many schools simply do not have the resources to host a meet. Many more do not even have resources to train on.

A few years ago, when a contingent of coaches met at the state track meet to discuss the new classifications, the coach from Unicoi County High School, a school of 796 students at the time who was moving from "A/AA" to "Large" division, brought up something that may also need to be considered, "Larger schools not only have more students but in a lot of cases more resources i.e. hurdles, jump pits, etc..." I'm paraphrasing but she elaborated to say her school didn't "even have 10 hurdles to train with." 

Now, since there was no feasible or practical way to find out what every Division I high school has to train with, I instead researched what each high school has to train on: Rubber, Asphalt, or Nothing. Here are the results of that research. 


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