TSSAA State Meet: Distance Dilemma

Decisions, Decisions

Every runner previously mentioned will compete in Large School Division-I at the State Meet in May. With other fringe contenders in the mix on both sides, (Aiden Britt, Jeb Jones, Bradley Turner, Canaan Anderson, Max Zani, Landri Wilcox, Skylar Boogerd, Andie-Marie Jones) simply qualifying out of some Sections becomes a challenge. What's even crazier is there are some athletes from a well-known distance program who occupy some of the top spots in our rankings who won't be competing in state qualifying at all. Our database can't delineate between Tennessee Runners and simply runners in Tennessee for what it's worth.

Canaan Anderson, Max Zani and Jacob Hatcher at Great 8

So the question(s) becomes... how will each athlete play their cards? The pace at which the state meet runs, while great for anyone who is a strict 100m/200m runner, really makes attempting any combination of a "distance double" a challenge and a 400m/800m double completely impossible. Last year we saw Renfree win the 1600m in 4:12 but follow it up with a 2:03 800m... a season worst by 6 seconds. Similarly, Cole Bullock was the only Large School Division-I boy who ran in both the 1600m and 3200m but that's more or less a bi-product of the pace at which sectional qualifying meets are run. While there are two heats of both boys and girls at the state meet for each sprint and relay event (including the 800), there is only 1 heat at a section meet that also has sub-sectionals. Anyone that tries to qualify in the mile has maybe half an hour until they try to qualify in the 800 and maybe an hour before they try to qualify in the 3200. With all this said it becomes obvious as to why you will likely see distance runners who sit in the Top 5 of the rankings in multiple events opt to go all in on just one of them as qualifying begins this week.

In an ideal world though, perhaps the TSSAA and Sectional meets can examine the schedule and venue to ensure that the State Championship produces the best athletes, in their best events, running their best times. Seeing as how most Sections do Field Events the day before Running Event Finals perhaps it would be beneficial to run the 3200m on Field Event day and then in the morning of the state competition for ALL CLASSIFICATIONS not just Division II. Furthermore, it would probably also be in the athlete's best interest for the TSSAA to find a venue with a Tartan or Mondo surface to host the state meet on. Not to mention a surface and timing company capable of running sprint events in both directions.

In Texas, the 3200m is run at 8:00 in the morning of the state meet during Field Events. In 2016, Reed Brown (now of University of Oregon) and Sam Worley (now of University of Texas) ran 8:50 and 8:51 respectively. Ten or so hours later they stepped back on the track to run 4:04 and change with Worley edging Brown. Far and away these were two of the best runners in the nation that year and we were able to see the best go head to head multiple times with an appropriate amount of recovery time.

This year we have 5 to 6 boys and 4 to 5 girls that are on the national radar however it's unlikely that we see all of them in one race together let alone two. Nevertheless, if April was any indicator of what's to come, it's going to be an exciting May... there are just ways to ensure it could be better.