The situation has been resolved, but George-Little Rock coach Curt Fiedler still was not pleased with the way the Class 1A boys 3,200-meter run was administered at the state track and field meet in Des Moines.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association has awarded three post-meet medals to boys who placed higher in last Thursday’s complete 3,200-meter run, aside from those given during the official race, which was shortened to seven laps due to a meet official’s error on the bell lap.
The IHSAA’s statement reads:
“We know these awards cannot make up for the frustration these competitors and their supporters felt last week, but hope they can serve as a positive reminder of their accomplishments.”
George-Little Rock’s Joe Anderson received a first-place gold medal, Nodaway Valley’s Joshua Baudler a runner-up silver and Dawson Hatch of Sioux Central received a medal for eighth place.
The results and team scoring will not change, both Anderson and Gehlen Catholic’s Will Roder will have gold medals from the event.
“We’re satisfied, I guess, but I just can’t believe it took the athletic association until the Monday after the meet to make this decision. I guess it takes a lot of guys at that office to make a decision like this,” Fiedler said. “I don’t know if you really can fix a mess like that.”
The fact that the official result and the team scoring was not changed was what really had Fiedler worked up. He said it would have been even worse if the Mustangs had not won the state championship as a team.
“If those two points would have ended up making the difference, the guys at the association would have seen an ugly side of me,” Fiedler said. “In that race, the lap bell is a courtesy. The track announcer and what he says is a courtesy. Having the time where they can see it is a courtesy. Those runners know what laps they are on.”
Fiedler said as he traveled through South Dakota on a family trip this week, he heard radio stations in that state making fun of the Iowa High School Athletic Association for its handling of the situation.
“The association is taking hits from all sides, as it should,” he said. “The whole thing should never happen.”
I had two thoughts as I was writing about this situation that didn’t make it into last week’s column.
The first is that the error was correctable if the meet officials had been alert to what their jobs actually are. The track announcer and the many meet officials lined all around the track should have informed the runners right away that there were two laps left.
I did not attend this year’s state meet in person, but I have been there many times. In my experience, there are far too many meet officials around the track and if they aren’t there to fix situations like this, what are they there for? They seem to think they are there as a sort of bouncer. They spend more time worrying about where the print photographers and the videographers from other media are than they do watching what they are supposed to be watching. I’ve actually seen one of them step on the track and nearly get in the way because he was too worried about if a photographer was supposed to be down there and if he was in the right place.
The second item that comes to mind is I feel bad for everyone involved — the kids, the parents, the coaches and even the IHSAA. Especially the poor guy who was the one that rang the bell too early. The people that volunteer to help at the state meet and the officials who work there are track and field fans. They love the sport and want to be there for the kids. This person simply made a mistake. We all make them in our work and our daily lives. I’m sure the poor guy didn’t get a wink of sleep that night, and it probably makes him sick to his stomach when he hears all the jokes and criticism directed toward him.
Remember, while it was the bell that was the initial error, there were opportunities to correct the mistake that weren’t taken advantage of. That’s not that guy’s fault. That falls on the IHSAA.