Section 1 bans parochial and private schools from Saturday's track and field Westchester County Championships

Iona Prep will not get a chance to repeat as the Westchester County overall boys indoor track and field champion.

Section 1 will not permit non-section parochial and private schools to compete in Saturday’s county championships at The Armory.

“We’re clearly upset,” Iona Prep athletic director Bernie Mahoney said Friday. “We’re disappointed for the kids. It’s supposed to be about them. It’s not supposed to be about coaches or administrators. It’s about kids. That’s their sport. That’s their passion. It’s a meet that they’ve enjoyed. It’s a meet that they’ve been successful in. To find out Thursday we can’t compete is tough.”

But Section 1 executive director Jen Simmons said, “They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.”

Simmons said a deadline was missed for paperwork and a sponsor was lacking. She said this meet is Section 1’s meet, just like Friday’s Rockland County Championships.

“That’s for our schools,” Simmons said. “Our schools have paid for that. Several years ago, it came out that there were private and parochial schools attending them.

“So the solution to that problem was that the privates and parochials could run a separate meet alongside of ours. They would not run with our schools. They would run their own meet. My understanding is, they took the times from our meet and their meet and merged them and came up with the winners of what they call the ‘Westchester County Aaron Hopkins Memorial Meet.’

“Everyone thinks they were at the Section 1 (county) championships. They were not at the Section 1 championships. That’s the biggest piece that people miss.”

But Mahoney said: “We have won the county championship the last two years. That’s the meet we believe we’re supposed to be participating in.”

The Gaels, under the direction of longtime coach Jan Mitchell, were certainly at least considered the de facto champs. They would have been the favorites to repeat. Simmons laid out specific details why they and the other boys and/or girls teams aren’t participating this time.

“The group of schools, who are not my schools, did not a) find a sponsor or b) hand in anything until I got it Wednesday,” Simmons said. “But there’s still no sponsor to it. Ursuline said they would be a co-sponsor, but there has to be an organization or group that’s going to sponsor the main tournament.

“With that comes a lot of information about fees, who’s covering insurance. It all has to go to one of our governing bodies, the athletic council. Well, that last meeting was the 16th of January. I don’t have another one until the 13th of February.”

She said her recommendation was that the private and parochial schools run a county meet after Feb. 13 if a sponsor is found.

“If this group wants to host another track meet and invite whomever they want to invite, it could happen,” Simmons said. “It’s just not happening Saturday during my event.”

Hackley, Holy Child, Kennedy and Stepinac were some of the others impacted.

“We received an e-mail that we couldn’t go, so we’re not going,” Holy Child director of athletics Amy Pare said. “It is what it is.”

So will the schools be allowed to compete next winter on the main meet day?

“If it goes through the approval process and everything is in place, yeah,” Simmons said. “But in theory, they’re running two meets at the same time, and that’s what it should be.”

Twitter: @bheyman99

More News