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Changes in track sectionals leaves questions

Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 11:30 AM

I guess even the high school sports level is touched by the need for change.

Just recently I discovered that all the area track and field teams will be taking part in the same sectional.

While that may come as no surprise to a few of you, for many it could mean a significant change in the track postseason.

In years past Linton-Stockton and Shakamak have ran their sectional meets at Terre Haute North while the remaining teams -- White River Valley, Eastern Greene and Bloomfield -- have all been a part of the Bloomington North Sectional.

When I first heard about the realignment my first thought was how it will affect us here at the paper and how it will turn one very busy day into one that's more manageable.

In the past I would head to one site and sports editor B.J. Hargis would go to the other. It would require two sets of photos, two separate stores and likely two pages in the paper.

Now, it makes one very hectic day for the sports department about as calm and quiet as the situation can produce.

With that in mind, the next thought that raced through what's left of my brain after 52 years was how will it affect the teams that are moving.

For Shakamak and Linton-Stockton the toughest competition they've had to face has been the schools from Terre Haute -- North, South, West Vigo and Northview -- along with Clay City, North Central and the rest.

But now they will have to face schools where the sports are more specific to each athlete.

As Eastern Greene girls track coach Ray Hausler pointed out to me during our preview interview, the schools at Bloomington have enough kids that the sports they take part in are usually their specialty.

He noted that there's not a lot of athletes that take part in more than one or two sports at those schools.

In the case of our area schools we sometimes have athletes taking part in multiple sports during the same season, let alone the same year.

At Eastern Greene several members of the softball team also run track. The same can be said for members of the Shakamak softball team as well as the baseball team.

The same is true for Linton-Stockton as well.

So the impact could be one that limits the postseason success of those teams.

While the strongest runners from each of the schools making the move to Bloomington will remain as track-only athletes, there will still be some effect on the overall.

The change also raises a few more questions that only time will be able to answer. And keep in mind that this is not aimed at any athlete in particular and is in no way meant to slight anybody.

So with that in mind, the question now becomes how will the efforts and final results of the athletes that are making the change in venue translate into moving into the regional compared to what might have been.

Arguably, the Terre Haute Sectional has always been a weaker sectional when it comes to what it takes to advance in my opinion. (Yes, I know opinions are like armpits, everybody has a couple and they usually stink).

I guess the best way to ask this one is will the student-athletes that have to make the change be up to the task? And will they step up to the challenge?

Those appear to be the biggest challenges they face and perhaps it might bring out the best in our local athletes.

No one ever said that competing was easy, nor did anyone ever think that it was supposed to be. After all if it was easy to compete they would find another name for it wouldn't they?

The coaches I've spoken to about the change are taking the same kid of attitude toward the situation as I am -- let's wait and see how things shape up and shake out.

Shakamak boys coach Mark Messmer gave the best approach when he noted that you can look at the times and markings from last year, evaluate them for what they're worth and then ponder what they will translate to this time around.

He further intimated that it will be guesswork as to how well the numbers translate from one year and from one sectional to the next into whether an athlete will advance at a new site or not.

Time will only tell.

While the total impact of the move by the IHSAA remains to be seen, It leaves some very interesting questions for fans to ponder as the track and field season progresses.

Rick Curl is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20. He can be reached by email at rcurl@gcdailyworld.com.

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