Posted: 2:54 pm Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Track and Field: Coaches hoping to move county championships to avoid conflict with Florida Relays 

By Anthony Chiang

Track and field coaches have an issue to discuss at the end of the season.

Palm Beach Lakes senior Jonathan Hayden participated in the Florida Relays last week. (Photo by Richard Graulich)

The Palm Beach County Track and Field Championships and the Florida Relays have been scheduled for the same week in each of the past three years, forcing some of the area’s best athletes to choose between the two meets. Now, coaches are ready to find a solution.

“This is something that’s going to be brought up at the end-of-the-year meeting, I’m pretty sure,” Palm Beach Lakes coach Jerome Groover said.

Palm Beach Lakes seniors Jonathan Hayden, Gina Louis, Markivous Brown, Josie Paine and Toni-Ann Reynolds, and Suncoast’s Bianca Joseph and St. Andrews’ Andre Delaney and Nic Jacobsen chose to participate in the Florida Relays over the county championship this year.

“That’s their decision,” said county championships meet director Harry Howell, who is also Cardinal Newman’s track coach, on some athletes choosing to take part in the Florida Relays. “I don’t have any control over it. I just let the matter rest. That’s the coach’s decision.”

Hayden holds the county’s best times in the boys 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, Louis holds the county’s best times in the girls 300 hurdles, and Joseph is tied for the county’s best time in the 100 hurdles this season.

With these athletes in another meet, the county championships don’t always produce the true winners in each event. But one of the advantages of choosing the Florida Relays is that athletes are able to get more exposure, as college coaches are in Gainesville for the meet.

“The coaches that have been with these youngsters for so many years feel obligated to put them in the best position so they can earn a scholarship,” Groover said. “It’s only natural, seniors are going to go to the Florida Relays and as a coach, you have to support them.”

One of the proposed solutions is holding the finals on the Saturday of the week of qualifying meets. This would move the county championships to the week before the Florida Relays.

“That would be a track coach’s call. Usually right now, conference qualifying is all they do that week,” Palm Beach County School District athletics director Yetta Greene said.

The Broward County Athletic Association’s Track and Field Championships were scheduled for a Saturday this year. If Palm Beach County coaches decide to do the same, the field events and the running events would need to be completed in one day as opposed to the current format of a two-day meet.

The county championships could also be held during spring break, but this would move it to the middle of March.

“Nobody says you can’t do it during spring break, you could if you thought enough students would be around,” Greene said.

“We can move the county championships up, but do you really want the county championships not to be within a week of the end of the season? Isn’t that a season culmination event? But they can have it any time they want to and they can move up the conference qualifiers. We can do within our county, whatever we want to do.”