This past week, the Illinois High School Board of Directors voted to unanimously change the wording regarding the participation of athletes in meets sanctioned by the National Governing body. In the case of Track & Field and Cross Country, that meets that are sanctioned by USATF are now fair game for IHSA athletes to participate in, starting in the 2012-13 school year. Prior to this, the ruling was worded so that meets that were only sanctioned and conducted by USATF are allowed with a waiver. Currently in Illinois only two meets are both sanctioned and conducted by USATF, the Dorothy Dawson Zone Invitational at Proviso West High School on February 19th, and the USATF National Indoor Championships on March 10th & 11th in Bloomington. Several High School athletes in Illinois will be heading to those meets in order to receive FAT times and a chance to run on a 200 meter track.
Meets in the 2012-13 school year that are USATF Sanctioned will still require a waiver signed by the principal and submitted to the IHSA with time for them to review and approve the waiver. For Illinois athletes this means that they will be allowed to compete at some of the indoor National Championships like the New Balance (formerly Nike) Indoor Nationals, the many meets held at the SPIRE Track in Geneva Ohio, the University of Kentucky Club meet and several others throughout the Midwest. Both the Indiana and Michigan High School Associations do not recognize indoor track as a season, and as a result there are several indoor meets that are USATF sanctioned and many high school athletes from those states compete in those meets. In the past, athletes and teams from Illinois had participated in those meets inadvertently due to the confusion surrounding the previous by-law.
When asked about the change, IHSA Track & Field Chair Ron McGraw stated, “I am supportive of this change and very happy the membership felt it was an appropriate time to provide more flexibility in this area. It is exciting for our athletes and good for Illinois High School Track and Field for Illinois athletes to be allowed to represent Illinois in some of the premier national events (starting in 2012-13). I anticipate that the IHSA Board of Directors will review IHSA Policy 16 at some time prior to the start of next school year to establish a maximum number of non-interscholastic competitions that would be allowed by an athlete during any single school year or season.”
Some of the top USATF Sanctioned High School Meets