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Sports committee approves statewide division alignments for cross country, indoor track

  • Hampshire Regional’s Chris Vayda runs to a first-place finish during the 2019 Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst Regional’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs at the start of the 2017 Western Massachusetts Division 1 Girls Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Sports Editor
Published: 5/19/2020 5:24:25 PM

The future of high school cross country within the MIAA will be vastly different than its current state, while changes to the indoor track and field format should improve participation at the championship meets next school year.

The changes and improvements were put into motion by the MIAA Cross Country/Track & Field Committee, which met virtually on Tuesday.

Following work by a subcommittee and with advice by the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association, the committee voted 15-0 in favor of moving cross country to a nine-division alignment when the postseason switches to a statewide system in 2021-2022 year.

Currently, cross country teams are split among Divisions 1 and 2. Using the same alignment factors (private schools, vocational schools, cooperative schools) put forward by the Tournament Management Committee, teams were moved to Division 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

To minimize confusion, the committee will likely name these Divisions as 1A, 1B, 1C; 2A, 2B, 2C; and 3A, 3B, 3C. The nine division championships will then feed into three state championships (Division 1, 2, 3).

The number of teams qualifying for the three state division championships will change. The top seven teams from each division advance. There will also be two additional wildcard teams per division.

The top 10 individuals from non-qualifying teams in each division will also advance.

Local teams are aligned in the following divisions:

Division 2: Holyoke

Division 4: Amherst Regional

Division 5: Northampton

Division 6: Belchertown

Division 7: South Hadley

Division 8: Easthampton, Frontier Regional, Hampshire Regional

Division 9: Gateway Regional, Granby, Hopkins Academy, Smith Vocational

Schools that opt to move up would automatically be approved, while schools that want to move down need to appeal to the Tournament Management Committee. Appeals will not be heard based on a program’s success rate. Appeals will be heard based on the following factors: school type (private, urban, co-op, vocational), participation numbers and large enrollment changes.

Indoor track

Using the same process and determining factors as cross country, the committee voted 15-0 to approve the recommended statewide five-division alignment for indoor track and field for 2021-2022.

The alignments are similar to the current setup of five divisions, however, the placement of teams is different.

Holyoke (Division 2), Northampton (Division 4), Hampshire Regional (Division 5) and South Hadley (Division 5) stay in their respective divisions. Amherst Regional moves from Division 4 to 3.

As for the 2020-21 indoor track season, several changes should improve participation at the state meets.

The biggest change deals with the All-State Championship. The committee voted 13-0 in favor of changing the name of the meet to “Meet of Champions” and eliminating team championship awards.

The committee also voted 13-0 in favor of adding “super max” qualifying standards for the “Meet of Champions.” These standards will be the 12th place average from the last three All-State meets.

If an athlete qualifies under these marks, he or she will not be required to participate in that event at the preceding championship.

The committee voted on several measures in regards to the qualifying standards for the five state meets.

The committee voted 13-0-1 to qualify the top 36 in the 600, 1000 and mile. For all other running events, the committee voted 13-0-1 to make the standard time the average 20th place from the last three respective divisional meets (2020, 2019, 2018). The qualifying standard for relays and field events will be the average 12th place from the last three years (13-0-1 vote). The official standards will be announced later this year.

The committee voted 15-0 to eliminate the “Honest effort rule: Failure to participate” rule from the tournament format. The rule basically states that if an athlete is scheduled to participate in an event and does not, that athlete is prohibited from participating in any subsequent event.

The committee voted 16-0 to keep the order of events the same from the trails to the finals.

All approved alignments and format changes will be sent to the Tournament Management Committee, which will meet virtually on June 4.

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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