In most sports that hold a league tournament or championship meet, it occurs prior to Michigan High School Athletic Association tournament districts or regionals.
Because track and field state finals are held each year on the Saturday after Memorial Day, and schools don’t want regional meets scheduled over Memorial Day weekend, track and field league meets in the mid-Michigan area for years have taken place during the week after regionals and before Memorial Day.
“It almost felt like a letdown,” East Lansing’s 36th-year girls coach Bob Brown said. “I think a lot of us coaches’ feelings are that getting kids to states is most important, so the big focus is on doing well at regionals. It’s not that the conference meet is unimportant, but just not as important as regionals and states.”
Jack Rarick, who has served as Holt’s boys head coach the past 10 years, agrees.
“Scheduling the regional meet (which allows for two competitors) five days before the conference meet made it tough on a team concept,” he said. “The conference meet allows for three participants in each event. As in most every other sport, you would really like your participation to narrow until the ultimate state championship.”
So on Friday for the first time, the CAAC Blue will hold its annual league meet (at Jackson this year) a week before regionals. They are not alone in the practice.
The Ottawa-Kent league’s several divisions in the Grand Rapids area, the Oakland Activities Association in the Detroit area and the Kensington Lakes Activities Association between Lansing and Detroit are some of several examples.
“We believe that we have elevated the status of the league meet, putting it on a Friday night and making it an easier meet for parents to attend and for kids to stay out late,” Rarick said.
“The move was made to have the league meet not be an afterthought,” East Lansing’s 11th-year boys coach Pat Murray said. “The idea is solid, and I was in favor of it, but it has proved to be less than a smooth transition. With our first dual meet of the season being postponed, the league meet will not be the final say in determining the league champion since we all have a dual meet to run after the fact.”
So even though Okemos is undefeated in boys and girls dual meets, the league titles may not be decided until that week between regionals (which are May 16 and 17) and Memorial Day.
“Many of us would like to see the other Lansing area teams change (their league meets) too,” Rarick said. “We believe that the Honor Roll meet is in a tough spot, sitting so close to the state meet.”
It will help a little to have the Greater Lansing Honor Roll Meet later this month on a Tuesday after Memorial Day at Waverly. This will give athletes an extra 24 hours of rest prior to the state finals on May 31.
“A much better place for it — in our opinion — would be the Wednesday before, on the date that most leagues currently now have their league meets,” Rarick said.
Athletes would then have 10 days to rest before state finals, and would be more likely to compete in as many honor roll meet events as they qualify in and make for more interest in each event. Event champions would then likely have to surpass all of the best athletes in the mid-Michigan area in a particular event and not just some who picked that event over another one.