It’s Time for  a Rule Change


by Joshua Hindle

The controversial baton "drop" from Evan Kowalk's (OHS) hand.
The controversial baton “drop” from Evan Kowalk’s (OHS) hand.

For quite some time , Frederick County Track and Field  has played a major role in the overall landscape of the county’s various sports programs.  Actually, teams from Frederick County have consistently performed well at the state level, even capturing numerous state titles and producing many collegiate track athletes.   Not too bad for good ‘ol Fredneck County.

This past year, Oakdale High School’s Men’s and Women’s track and field teams have experienced a massive amount of success.  For the Girl’s team, this was nothing new, capturing their first indoor track state title, and fourth total.  On the Boy’s side, they captured their first ever state, narrowly beating out the  Knights.  Yet for all this success, there is still heartbreak to go along with the success.

The Boy’s 4×400 meter relay has consistently been one of the best teams in the state, and this year, they had a legitimate chance to win states.  However, they will not be able to compete for a state title because of an unfortunate and unfair rule.

According to MPSSAA rules, one can only qualify for the State Track meet by hitting the qualifying mark at the Regional meet. There are four regions, North, South, East, and West, our region,.  Even if you have been consistently running the times needed to go to states, one bad meet means no states for you.  This is exactly what happened this past weekend at the 2A West Regional Championships at Oakdale High School.

Oakdale Track Coach David Beach remarked, “This really is an unnecessary, because all it serves to do is hurt the athletes, and negate all that they have worked for.”

It was the final event of the day, the 4×400, and the Oakdale relay team of Kenny Yerardi, Joshua Hindle, Patrick Starrs, and Evan Kowalk, were on pace to break the school record and easily qualify for the State Championships.  However, as the anchor leg, Evan Kowalk was 40 meters away from winning the race, the unthinkable happened.

Evan was neck and neck with Catoctin’s anchor Patrick Van Der when their arms hit each other, and Evan’s baton went flying from his hand.  This event caused Evan to slow down and search for the baton.  By the time that he was able to retrieve the baton, Catoctin had already crossed the finish line, running a time of 3:25 and securing their place at the State Championships.  If not for the baton drop, it is easy to say that Oakdale’s relay team would have been right there with Catoctin’s team, possibly winning the race.

Sadly this was not the case, and the 4×400 meter relay team that had a great shot to win States will not even be allowed to run at the State meet.  In light of this, I believe that it is time for a rule change.

Sophomore Evan Kowalk reflected on the race, “It was a really deflating experience, knowing that the team as a whole was about to pr by a huge amount, and unfortunately it did not end like that.”

The rules should be more like they are in college: if you hit the time at any point during the season, than you have qualified for States.  While it is too late for Oakdale’s 4×400 meter relay, it is not too late for future relay teams. The change can happen now, so there won’t be suffering later.