WIAA on wrong track with Bellermine decision

The state organization that governs high school sports has stumbled in a recent decision involving girls track. Because of it, common sense has been shoved aside in favor of a questionable rule. The issue involves the girls 3,200-meter run at the recent Class 4A track and field meet in Pasco. One of the runners — Nicole Cochran of Bellarmine Prep — was disqualified when a judge ruled she stepped over the inside lane line during the race. Cochran dominated the race and won by three seconds, but was denied her medal. Here’s the problem. A video of the race shows that it wasn’t Cochran who stepped over the line, but another runner.

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2008 1:00pm
  • Opinion

The state organization that governs high school sports has stumbled in a recent decision involving girls track.

Because of it, common sense has been shoved aside in favor of a questionable rule.

The issue involves the girls 3,200-meter run at the recent Class 4A track and field meet in Pasco. One of the runners — Nicole Cochran of Bellarmine Prep — was disqualified when a judge ruled she stepped over the inside lane line during the race. Cochran dominated the race and won by three seconds, but was denied her medal.

Here’s the problem. A video of the race shows that it wasn’t Cochran who stepped over the line, but another runner. (See the video at http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=279&id=15577)

No matter says the governing organization — the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The judge’s ruling stands.

The video? Since it wasn’t an official video, it can’t be considered, the WIAA says.

If you think this is bad so far, just wait. There’s more.

The disqualification form lists the wrong lap in which the infraction supposedly occurred. Also, a second judge refused to sign the disqualification form. That alone should make the WIAA wonder.

The runners themselves have no question as to who actually won the race. Shadle Park’s Andrea Nelson, who came in second before the controversy, walked off the podium at the medals presentation and gave the gold medal to Cochran.

Redmond’s Sarah Lord, who finished third before the disqualification, also said the judges got it wrong. Lord then gave her silver medal to Nelson and the rest of the top eight finishers passed their medals to the person who crossed the finish line ahead of them.

The WIAA is a fine organization that helps police high school athletics to make sure rules and regulations are followed. In this case, it appears a mistake was made, but by one of the WIAA judges.

It’s wrong to penalize a high school runner when it clearly appears she didn’t violate a rule. Judges are human and they can be wrong.

The WIAA should make this right.


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