Clarifying Some Points

Letters to the sports editor

December 08, 1991

From: Jim Bullock

Francis Scott Key cross country coach

In response to your article (Carroll County Sun, Nov. 24) which pointed out both the meet officials' and coaches' stand on the controversial disqualifications that took place during the running of the boys 1A cross country championships at Western Maryland College on Nov.9, I would like to mention several facts that were either omitted, stated incorrectly or require clarification. At this point, I understand and have accepted the fact the State Association does not and willnot overrule the meet's official decision. I am only doing what any coach would do when he sincerely believes that his athletes and team were delivered a disservice: defend them and support their efforts.

No "unfair cheap shots" have been directed to the meet officials, only legitimate concerns over the disqualification ruling, the appeal process and the physical nature of the final turn involved.

Your article stated that meet officials point out that the boys 4A race went "without a hitch" at the final turn. That was due to the fact that more marshals and crowd control were put in place for the second race.

Runners from teams who did take the course walk were also disqualified. Why were they confused about the course markings, or why did they run off the course?

The meet referee could write down only eight runners' positions or numbers who were disqualified, but others also went off the course at the same location and were not disqualified because their numbers could not be recorded.

Tim Sandstrom, cross country coach from Great Mills High School, a 3A school, is the District 4 representative of the State Cross Country Committee. He has notified me that he was not called upon to rule on any official protests involving 1A or 4A schools. It was stated that 2A and 3A representatives were supposed to rule on 1A and 4A protests. This brings up this question: Who actually met to rule on this protest?

John Grim, rules interpreter, states that the disqualifications "could have beenavoided" and that the final turn was "poorly marked," and Bob Dean, meet director, agrees that there was a "crowd control problem" at thefinal turn. So, why couldn't the race officials and appeal committee, whatever their makeup, based on all the evidence, use their collective experience and administrative skills, and keeping the athletes inmind rather than the letter of the law, withdraw the disqualifications and re-evaluate the course markings and crowd control situation for next year's championship?

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the many county and state coaches, parentsof county athletes, county administrators and area running enthusiasts for the support directed to the Francis Scott Key boys cross country team. I would also like to congratulate and thank my boys for the hard work and effort they demonstrated throughout the season and during the running of the championship race. They ran like champs!

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