Monday, June 2, 2008

Running On Empty?

To the naked eye, it might appear to have been another long weekend of collegiate track meets. But a closer examination begs the question are the NCAA Regional Championship meets hurting the collegiate sport? Some of the elite college runners will put in 20 – 35 races before the Olympic Trials in June..

Say what? That's a lot of races.

For starters, are regional meets in the best interest of the kids?

Some well-respected college coaches say absolutely no. They believe that individual runners have a finite number of good races in them each season. Other sports, such as baseball, crunch numbers by the game to determine “pitch count” so that coaches can determine how long a hurler stays in the game. There may be something to that theory. Ever notice how many collegiates are physically falling apart after the NCAA Championships? Maybe college track needs a “race count” that varies by individual to keep the kids healthy and maximize an athlete’s career longevity.

I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I was running a kid in 20 - 35 races that has the ability to earn $1 million running track down the road.

Regional meets also bring up additional expenses and travel costs for schools. They add another event on an already too long track and field schedule.

The extra meet may very well reduce the chances of some elite collegiates make the U.S. Olympic Team. This year the NCAA Track & Field Championships are just 13 days before the U.S. Olympic Trials.

But don’t listen to me. Just ask Jeremy Wariner, LaShawn Merritt, Kerron Clement, Sanya Richards, Allyson Felix, Marshevet Hooker and Bianca Knight who have all either left school early or skipped college all together. And, the number one reason cited for going pro early is the number of races that are required for an athlete to peak for indoor nationals, regionals, outdoor nationals, NCAA Championships, and the Trials. Whew—I’m worn out just thinking about all that running.

By Jay Hicks.

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