In a virtual meeting Tuesday, the MIAA’s Cross Country & Track Committee unanimously approved modifications for the upcoming Fall II indoor season, scheduled to begin on Feb. 22.
The modifications must be approved by the MIAA’s Sports Medicine Committee, the COVID-19 Task Force, and the Board of Directors. Committee chair Pete Rittenburg, the athletic director at Brookline High, expects all three groups to approve the modifications by Friday, but the committee noted that finding facilities to host indoor track events would be difficult.
Among the notable changes:
▪ Only essential personnel (coaches, athletes, medical personnel and trainers, meet officials) are allowed in the competition area. Media members, spectators, and team managers are not allowed near the start or finish lines, or the field area.
▪ Designated warmup areas will be created to facilitate social distancing. All runners must move in the same direction on the track during warmups.
▪ Masks are required for all participants and officials have authority to remove an athlete from competition if this rule is violated.
▪ No hand touching (high fives, handshakes, etc.) during competition
▪ Starting blocks will not be used in sprint and hurdle races. Every other lane on the track will be used.
▪ Batons will be disinfected before every relay race and it is recommended that participants wear gloves.
▪ Event operators should wear gloves when handling equipment such as hurdles, high jump mats and bars, and the shot put.
The Committee also released its cross-country divisional alignment for the Fall 2021-Spring 2023 period. The new alignment will remain at three statewide divisions, but those will be separated into nine subdivisions (three subdivisions within each division) for purposes of qualifying for the divisional state meets. They are broken down geographically (East, Central, and West) and are aligned by total enrollment.
Starting in the 2021-22 school year, indoor track & field will remain at five divisions while outdoor track and field will move to a statewide, six-division format. That change breaks from its current iteration, which has four divisions within Eastern Massachusetts and two divisions in a combined Central-West region.
The committee chose this format because of the popularity of the outdoor season, according to Rittenburg. It’s the most popular sport among girls and second-most popular among boys, according to MIAA data. Moving to a statewide format would allow for a number of state tournament qualifiers that is similar to what the current system allows.
“We went with the statewide concept that got approved in a lot of the other sports. We kind of got ahead of the curve and indoor is already statewide,” Rittenburg said.