Tag Archives: multiplier

It’s summer, so let’s talk about the multiplier—and recruiting.

IHSA Boys 3A Sectional Track Champions:  Saint Ignatius Wolfpack!

For the second year in a row, the Saint Ignatius Wolfpack boys track team is an IHSA 3A Sectional Track Champion!

There has been some more conversation recently about the multiplier that the Illinois High School Association uses to calculate enrollments for some high schools and then to assign teams to divisions for sports competitions.

To rehash a little bit:  Before 2009 the IHSA state championships divided schools into two divisions for track and field and cross country—large schools and small schools, AA and A.  The cut-off was around 750 students total enrollment.  In that system Saint Ignatius College Prep, with an enrollment of around 1375, was clearly a large school—no problem.  We were still, however, among the smaller half of the schools in AA, competing against many city and suburban schools that enrolled 2,000 and more students.

It had made no difference to us when in 2006 the IHSA instituted a 1.65 enrollment multiplier for “non-boundary” schools—private, Catholic, and public schools that do not draw students from a specific geographical area.  Basically the smaller public schools from around the state ganged up on the private, Catholic, and city schools—mainly because of the success of those schools in very specific sports:  football and girls volleyball.  Football, with its eight classifications, was a particular target.  The multiplier was intended to move some of the Catholic school powerhouse football teams up in class into competition with bigger public high schools.

As a result, our 1375 Saint Ignatius enrollment became 2200 under the multiplier.  But in track and cross country, both two division sports back then, it meant nothing to us.    We were already classified as a big school, remember.

But then, in 2009, the IHSA instituted another change:  three divisions for track and cross country.  The cut-offs were roughly at 750 for 1A, 750-1500 for 2A, and above 1500 for 3A.   Ignatius should be a 2A school by straight enrollment.  But the multiplier put us in 3A.  We have competed in 3A ever since.

The story got a little bit more complicated in 2011 when the IHSA instituted an automatic waiver system that exempted many schools from the multiplier on a sport by sport basis.  Essentially, if a multiplied school has not been able to compete successfully in a particular sport against the larger school class, it is no longer multiplied in that sport.

There are many interesting issues with the multiplier.  The waiver procedure raises more issues.

But it is still really a non-issue for us.  We have had enough success as a team in track and cross country that we expect to be multiplied.  I actually began blogging here two years ago mainly because I simply wanted to think about and write about the multiplier and the issues it raises for our cross country and track teams at Saint Ignatius.   The conclusion I reached then continues to hold.  In conversations with my athletes, they have told me that they prefer to compete in the 3A large-school division of the IHSA against the best competition in the state.

In 2013, especially, we showed that we are able to do so.  At the state track meet in May, we scored 28 points to finish fourth in the 3A meet.  Most of our points came from one athlete, our double state champion Jack Keelan, who won the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.  We scored ninth place in the 4×800, and in his third state meet junior Conor Dunham finished third in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.  We also qualified other athletes who competed at the state meet in the pole vault, the long jump, and the 4×400 relay.  For the second consecutive year, we won a sectional meet team championship, in addition to qualifying our strong group of athletes for the state meet, and this year the competition included a perennial sectional champion and last year’s third-place state team, Oak Park-River Forest.  This was our team’s best performance ever in the state series, and it is a fair claim that this was the best team Saint Ignatius has ever produced.

But a look at the 2A results and  a quick calculation suggests that we could have scored as many as 70 points in the 2A state meet, good enough for 2nd place—and a possible challenge against this year’s dominant team from Cahokia.  In 2A we might have scored points in eight additional individual events, and in two more relays.  What’s more, we might have had as many as 16 more athletes qualify for the 2A state meet, depending upon where we were assigned for a 2A sectional.

That kind of success would arguably have made us an even more storied team.  Fourth place in the state meet did not give us a trophy.  Second place in 2A would have given us one.

The multiplier has recently been a topic on Dyestat.com’s tracktalk page.  The kick-off point was an overheard conversation recounted by Bob Geiger, former Dyestat Illinois owner, FAT proprietor, and semi-retired coach at Whitney Young.   At a sectional seed meeting, according to Geiger, a 2A coach for a team with a multiplier waiver talked about keeping kids out of the meet to avoid scoring points that might earn the team a spot next year in the 3A series.  Under the complicated rules of the multiplier, if you finish in the top three spots at the sectional meet as a team for two years out of six, you lose the waiver—and you might bump up in class. [Edit:  Actually, I just took a look again at Geiger’s post, and he talks about multiple coaches talking this way at two different sectional meetings.]

Our Saint Ignatius team, for the record, does not care about the waiver; we care about scoring points.  We have won two sectionals, and I think we have finished in the top three of every sectional meet since I started as coach ten years ago.  After our sectional win this year, we are automatically multiplied for the next five years.

Andrew Adelmann, track and cross country coach at Jones College Prep, recently wrote a blog post about the multiplier on the Dyestatil.com site.  The gist of his argument was that it is unfair to apply the same 1.65 multiplier to the enrollments of magnet high schools in Chicago and to the Catholic and private schools which have special advantages in terms of admissions procedures, offering financial scholarships, and recruiting generally.  City magnet schools, after all, are not un-boundaried schools, he noted; they enroll students from the city of Chicago, and they do so under a set of admissions rules that are very strict.

Jones is in a particularly problematic position with regard to the multiplier.  They are a successful program—especially in cross country, where they were the 2A boys state champions in 2012.  They were successful as a track program for a few years competing as a 2A school in sectional meets; they had two top-three team scores in the last three years, which means they are multiplied for three more years.  The Jones enrollment is about 880, which multiplies to 1450.  For cross country, they are a 2A school, with the cut-off above 1600.  But for track, the 2A cut-off is just above 1400; Jones was 3A for track this year, and they will be 3A for next year, as well.  What’s more, Jones opens its new school building this year, and enrollment will increase a bit more over the next few years to over 1,000, moving them closer to 3A status under the multiplier in cross country, as well as track.

I consider Adelmann a coaching friend.  I haven’t had a chance to tell him directly that I didn’t like the blog.

In his blog he has essentially accepted the basic argument in favor of the multiplier from the public schools around the state, which is that Catholic schools, in particular, have advantages in terms of recruiting athletes.   I don’t think that this argument has any relevance whatsoever in terms of Saint Ignatius or, really, for track and field, generally.  Adelmann posted his blog on a track and field web site—and, in addition to being professional friends, we are also the Catholic school that is his closest rival.  He seemed to be talking about us.

The common argument that Adelmann seems to accept so quickly—Catholic schools have recruiting advantages–actually seems to ignore some pretty basic real world issues for families and adolescents that come up when students consider whether to attend our school.

I fail to see how it is a recruiting advantage for Saint Ignatius when we tell families that they have to pay $15,300 for tuition to attend our school, whereas it is free to attend a public school.  We have demanding admissions standards; only about half the 1,000 students who apply get an acceptance.  We have strict rules about financial aid procedures, which are need-based; parents have to submit documented financial information in order to apply for aid.   Contrary to popular belief, apparently, there are no athletic scholarships.

What’s more, when students come to Saint Ignatius, they also have to accept the special requirements that come with attendance at a Catholic school that is arguably doing everything it can do to define itself as Catholic–and different from the mainstream adolescent culture.  This includes, among other things, going to church as a school several times a year, saying a school prayer daily, and taking four years of religion classes.  We also have a disciplinary system with what others might call detention, but which we call “Jug,” or “justice under God.”   You can get a jug for having your shirt untucked (boy), or because your skirt is too short (girl), or because traffic on the Edens or the Eisenhower frequently makes you late for school.  The students who attend Saint Ignatius choose to accept these things; many other adolescent students would not—and do not.

Finally, there are issues with attending school at a distance from your home—including commuting and managing city and suburban transportation to Saint Ignatius by bus, train, and car.  Many of our students commute for an hour or more–each way.  It is also not a small thing to leave friends behind at home, especially when those friends will go on to the hometown local high school together–and you will be going to another one in the city, perhaps on your own.

Approximately a fifth of the students who get accepted to attend Saint Ignatius choose instead to attend another high school—usually a local public high school, or, in the city, one of the magnet schools like Jones College Prep.

This year I had contact with two special “recruits.”  I use that word very loosely.  I did not seek out these boys to invite or encourage them to attend Saint Ignatius because of athletic ability.  They are boys who apparently had an interest in our school—and who then identified themselves to me because of their interest in running.  Because they wanted to attend our school and they had questions about our track and cross country programs, they wanted me to know about their special talents as runners.  They were probably among the best runners I ever “recruited” this way.

One boy I met once for a short conversation after he ran the elementary school race we host in conjunction with our Connelly-Polka Cross Country Invite; it is an event that we actually co-host with Fenwick.  I think we also briefly met in the hallway passing period on his shadow day at Saint Ignatius; he was not even escorted that day by a runner from our team.   The boy, his father, and I shared a few emails, providing information about our program.  This boy tested at Saint Ignatius in January, he was accepted in February, and then his parents accepted his spot with a $500 non-refundable deposit in March.  Mid-May I got the surprising news that he would be attending one of the strong magnet high schools in the city next year.  He had attended a small Catholic school for his elementary school years, and he wanted something different for high school.

I did have a short conversation with the cross country coach from this high school, after the fact.  The coach certainly knew about this boy’s decision, and at the family’s request, he said, he had in fact arranged for the boy’s shadow day at the school.  I sent a last email to the boy and his father telling them that he would have lots of fun and good coaching running with the boys at his chosen school.

A second “recruit” I met twice, first at the Saint Ignatius open house last December.  He spent a lot of his time that day—20 minutes or so— in our school gym talking with Dan Santino, our star freshman runner; we spoke only briefly.  I sent him the same follow up email that I send to all the boys I meet at open house, thanking them for their interest and offering to answer any future questions.  He tested at Ignatius in January, was accepted in February, made his deposit in March, and then enrolled in classes in April when he visited for a registration meeting with another Ignatius teacher.  It was on the day he registered for classes that I met him the second time, just to shake hands and say hello.  I have been sending him emails this summer about our plans for the fall and our summer runs at Waterfall Glen on Sunday mornings.   Last week he sent me an email to say he would be attending the suburban public high school where he lives.  I think, finally, that he really just wanted to go to high school there with his friends from grammar school.

I can assure my coaching friend Andrew Adelmann that not one of the athletes on my team was “recruited”—in the real meaning of the term–to come to Saint Ignatius as a track athlete.  A few of the boys on the team, including a couple siblings of Ignatius students at the time, participated in Ignatius summer camps before they applied; Dan Santino, brother of our 2011-12 cross country and track captain Patrick Santino, actually attended Ignatius lacrosse camp.  A couple of our future athletes, like Santino, competed in elementary school track and cross country meets that we have organized.  I meet a few boys who join our team each year as freshmen when they are 7th or 8th graders at the open house Ignatius holds each year in December, and I might have sent those few an email with follow up information about our team.

There are 80 or so boys on our track and cross country team rosters.  I believe that I met all but four or five of them on the very first day of practice—and Jack Keelan, as a specific example, is one of the boys I met on the first day of cross country practice in August of 2010. [Edit:  Keelan has reminded me that we actually met a few weeks before this when he attended a couple of our summer runs at Waterfall Glen.  At the time he was also running with the Lyons summer running camp weekday mornings.]

So much for recruiting–or maybe I am just really bad at it.  Recent evidence suggests it is certainly not one of my strengths as a coach.  And that is maybe how it is supposed to be.



Filed under coaching, cross country running, high school track and field, IHSA, running, teaching

What the heck is the multiplier and why do you care so much about it?

If you got through my first blog post, some readers, my friends who don’t follow Illinois high school sports, are probably asking what the heck is the multiplier and why do you care about it?  Part two would be, what happened to make things different now—or not?

Six years ago the Illinois High School Association, which administrates over high school sports competition in Illinois, instituted a new rule for classifying schools in Illinois high school sports—what has come to be called the multiplier.  The IHSA establishes standardized rules for all kinds of matters for Illinois high school sports, including academic eligibility, amateur standing, recruiting rules and practices, drug testing, and seasonal practice schedules and coaching rules for different sports.  But all of this really results from the end goal: The IHSA organizes 751 high schools into different classes for state tournament competition—eight classes for football, four for basketball, three for soccer, cross country, and track, and so on.  The classes are based upon official enrollment numbers for each school.  Girls-only and boys-only schools have their enrollments doubled to make a common standardized number to compare with the co-ed schools.  But there are other differences when it comes to enrollment.

The IHSA includes both public schools that enroll students according to their strictly defined geographical school districts or “boundary schools,” on the one side, as well as, on the other side, private schools and other public schools that do not have a designated geographic district for enrollment—so-called “non-boundary schools.”  These non-boundary schools include private schools like Francis Parker, Latin, and University High in Chicago.  They include the Chicago Public League magnet schools that bring students together from all over the city—Whitney Young, Lane Tech, and Northside College Prep.  But the biggest group among the non-boundary schools are the Catholic high schools from around the state, including, of course, my own school, Saint Ignatius College Prep.

There are many natural tensions that already exist between the school district schools and the non-boundary schools, especially the private schools—and especially Catholic schools.  These include the conflicts between the interests of publicly funded schools and privately financed tuition schools that arise, for example, in political discussions about vouchers and school choice; teachers in public schools generally get paid a lot more than those in Catholic and private schools–and parents of students in private schools pay to send their children to school.  There is a natural conflict between schools with a religious orientation, especially those in the big Catholic parochial school system, and public schools which might be said to have a much different political or social agenda.  There is a conflict between city schools, where most of the non-boundary schools are based, and suburban schools, which are largely geographic school district schools.   These tensions arguably make for interesting rivalries and carry over into competition on the sports field.

In football, in particular, now with eight classes in the state tournament, rivalries between public schools on one side and private and Catholic schools on the other are particularly heated.  The city of Chicago still has an annual end of season game between a public school champion and a Catholic school champion.   Football was the last major IHSA sport to get a formal state tournament.  In 1974 the Chicago Catholic League, a last hold-out, agreed to join a state football playoff, initially organized with five different classes based on enrollment.  With good reason, perhaps, up until that point the CCL had basically considered its champion as the best team in the state.  The CCL has subsequently produced 22 state champion football teams, including ten by Mt. Carmel and nine by Providence Catholic.  Another Catholic school, Joliet Catholic, has been even more successful with thirteen state titles.

Currently there are about 180 non-boundaried schools and 570 boundaried schools in the state.   Although no one seems to have done a definitive study, it seems perfectly clear to many people that the Catholic schools have a success rate disproportionate to their numbers—in football, but also in other sports.  And for these people, the explanation for Catholic school success is simple:  recruiting.  Catholic schools like Mt. Carmel can find athletes all over the Chicago metropolitan area and bring them to the South Side campus to play football—athletes like NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb and likely future NFL Hall-of-Famer Simeon Rice who played at Mt. Carmel.

After a  period of several years in which he had top-ranked and even undefeated teams lose to Joliet Catholic in the class 5A state tournament, in 2005 the coach of the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team, Otto Zeman, apparently had had enough.  As a member of the IHSA’s Football Advisory Committee, Zeman advocated for a proposal to level the playing field for public schools by multiplying the enrollments of private and Catholic schools; the first proposal from this committee was to double them.  This would force smaller Catholic schools to play against larger public schools—and presumably move Joliet Catholic into a different classification than Riverside-Brookfield.

The multiplier proposal struck a nerve.  Because enrollment number changes would have to be applied according to IHSA standard practice across all sports—and because the multiplier proposal sounded good to schools with basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball teams and other sports that lost to Catholic school teams–that football-based proposal quickly moved through the IHSA administrative process, overseen ultimately by the state’s high school principals.  The final approved rule reduced the multiplier to 1.65.  Instituted with much controversy in the fall of 2005, the multiplier was set aside temporarily for the winter and spring sports seasons that school year during a court challenge by a group of 32 private schools.  The courts never ruled—but the arguments were interesting.

If you have more interest in the multiplier and the details of the Illinois story, as well as its history in other states, try this law journal article, available online:   Timothy Lian Epstein, “Prep Plus: Evaluating the Motivations for and Effects of Enrollment Multipliers and Other Measures in High School Sports,” University of Texas, Texas Review of Entertainment and Sports Law, Vol. 10, Spring 2009: http://www.salawus.com/Pubsevents/pubs/Epstein_Final_Edit.pdf.  As Epstein explains after reading the court discussion, “Regarding the necessity for a multiplier, private schools challenging the decision have received the following common explanations: (1) recruiting, (2) lack of enrollment boundaries, and (3) an un-level playing field as evidenced by the success of the private schools in state tournaments.”  But officially the IHSA has never acknowledged that the non-boundary schools are cheating:  “ However, the private schools’ complaint alleges that these explanations are simply pretext and quotes news articles in which IHSA officials have stated ‘We’re not trying to, in any way, say that non-boundaried schools are cheating, that they’re recruiting, that they’re doing anything against our rules.’”  The real reason for the multiplier, according to the non-boundary schools’ complaint, was simply to legislate victories for the boundary schools.  The multiplier was “a deliberate effort to dictate wins and losses.”

In part because they were worried that the public schools which dominate the IHSA democracy could vote in an even bigger multiplier if they wanted to do so, the private schools finally settled and accepted the 1.65 multiplier.  Since the public schools outnumber the non-boundary schools, a state-wide vote of principals, not surprisingly, overwhelmingly supported the multiplier proposal of 1.65 for non-boundaried when it was brought to a vote.   It has been the law of the land in Illinois high school sports since 2006.

And now, some results of the multiplier are becoming clear.

In the six years that the multiplier has been used to calculate enrollments for the football playoff process, Elmhurst Immaculate Conception, Addison Driscoll Catholic, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Bloomington Central Catholic, Wheaton St. Francis, Lombard Montini, St. Rita, and Joliet Catholic—all schools with multiplied enrollments—have won state football championships.   And even with the multiplier, Riverside-Brookfield has been competing in the same class as Joliet Catholic.   Riverside-Brookfield had about a .500 record during this period, and Otto Zeman retired after the 2009 season, never having won a state championship.

In my eight years as a cross country and track and field coach at Saint Ignatius College Prep, we have competed under three different sets of IHSA classification rules.   The first years we were classified as a AA school.  Cross country and track were two-class sports—A and AA, small schools and big schools.  In this simple picture, Ignatius was easily a big school—even though our enrollment of 1,350 did not really compare with the really big schools of the state, like Lane Tech (4100+), Naperville Neuqua Valley (4200+), Wilmette New Trier (4100+), LaGrange Lyons Township (3800+), Chicago Whitney Young (3200+), Wilmette Loyola (2000+), Oak Park-River Forest (3100+}, Elmhurst York (2600+), and Evanston (2800+).  The IHSA organizes the preliminary rounds of its tournaments with a geographic plan, technically emphasizing the importance of regional representation in its state championship tournament finals.  In cross country, we competed in our regional and sectional meets against state powerhouse teams like York, Lyons Township, Oak Park-River Forest, and, recently, our Catholic League rival Loyola.  We had minimal success as a AA school, generally finishing in the second division, worse than tenth, at the twenty team sectional championship each year.

But in track we were placed in a sectional championship meet of mainly city-area schools.  Our team, a middle-level team in the Chicago Catholic League, competed frantically to win our sectional meets on points; Ignatius had never won a sectional championship.  We still haven’t won one; we narrowly lost to St. Patrick’s and then to Lane Tech in different years with second place finishes.  The top two finishers in each event of this meet qualify for the state championship meet, and we did take a fairly big group of boys to the state meet in Charleston each year–sometimes two relays, as well as runners in the 800, 1600, and 3200, and often in a field event or two.   Comparing the performances at our sectional meet with those of other sectionals around the state, ours was one of the weakest in the state.  Our qualifiers were generally at the bottom of the state meet lists.

We had no success in Charleston at the state meet.  We understood we were fortunate, really, to get the chance to run there at all.  But just qualifying boys to the state championship still qualified as success.  The trip to state was fun—and inspiring.   We used that success to promote our team and to give our boys confidence to improve and aspire compete at a higher level.  In other words, it helped us to build our program.

In the first years of the multiplier, our situation did not change.  Our new enrollment number—about 2,200 with the multiplier—made us a big school, but we were already a big school.  So we competed in AA, basically against the same competition in track and cross country as previous years.

But in 2009 the IHSA made another change.  Cross country and track were re-organized into three classes.  In the three-class system our multiplied number made us a big school—a really big 3A school. We were competing against the schools with enrollments of 2,000 and more, even though there was another class for schools like us—around 1,000.   The IHSA had made new classifications to give another whole group of schools, with enrollments from 750-1,500, more opportunities to compete and have success in the state championship meets—except our teams were not given that opportunity.

The multiplier got our attention because now it did matter.   In the re-organized three class state tournament for track and field, we were placed in a stronger and more competitive sectional meet—really a meet that combined many of the Chicago-area schools that had previously competed in two weaker sectional meets.  Our competition included Oak Park-River Forest, a strong suburban team, but it also included some of our Catholic League (also multiplied) rivals from the city, as well as many city public schools—including strong city teams like Lane Tech and Whitney Young.   Still, we had some success, continuing to qualify a solid group of boys to run at the state meet and placing near the top of the “also rans” when Oak Park ran away with most of the points at the meet.

But the multiplier had a bigger effect in cross country.  As it happened, the 2A cross country sectional meet for our area took place at the same Niles West High School location as our 3A sectional cross country meet.  We competed against the top 3A teams in the state—York, Oak Park, Loyola—and we were clearly overmatched.   We watched from the outside as 2A schools we had defeated in other meets qualified for the state meet—and because we had run on the same course, we could compare performances and even calculate where we would have finished in that meet.  To be honest, we did not do so in any careful way—why bother?  But it was clear that we would have easily qualified for state as a 2A school.

But a funny thing happened over the three years that we have been re-classified as a really big 3A school.  In both cross country and track, our teams have gotten better and better.  In order to compete in 3A, our boys realized how hard they would have to work and they started to put in that work.  Their coach realized he would have to push them harder and harder—and we worked a lot harder in practice.  In cross country, we won our regional championship easily the last two years.  This was really the equivalent of our track success in those weaker sectional meets, because our regions were comparatively weak; the city of Chicago, where our region was based, is not a strong area for cross country.

Then in the fall of 2010 our cross country team accomplished what we had almost thought would be impossible.  We placed high in some big early invitationals at the Leavey in St. Charles and at the Woodruff in Peoria.  We found ourselves ranked as high as 13th in the state according to informal polls like ESPN Rise/Dyestat’s.  We won the Chicago Catholic League championship for the first time in 12 years, defeating Loyola.  Then for the first time since 1982 we qualified for the state championship meet with a fifth place finish at the Niles West 3A sectional—behind York, Oak Park, and Loyola, but within shouting distance, at least.  We finished 20th at the state meet—and we found that finish a little bit disappointing.

Maybe being in 3A made us better.

Still, the question remains:  In this 3-class system, is the multiplier really fair?

According to the news about the multiplier this week, the answer, as it turns out, is that it is not fair for everybody who gets multiplied.  But it is apparently fair for us, because we did too good a job at competing against the bigger schools.

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Every blogger has to start by writing about something

My 80-year-old mother finally asked me, “What are you doing on that computer all the time?”  I didn’t really have a good answer.

It is the middle of June and the beginning of summer vacation for a high school teacher and track coach.  With my mother, wife, and two four-year-olds, we’re hanging out at our summer home in Three Oaks, Michigan.  And I’m spending too much time on the computer without a real good reason.

First reading about it in the Chicago Tribune on Friday of last week, I found over the next few days that I couldn’t get enough news and opinion about the changes in the Illinois High School Association’s so-called “multiplier” rule.  According to some new rules, the state competition classifications of many schools in our Chicago area would change in the sports that I coach, cross country and track and field.   It was big news—the biggest since the creation of the multiplier itself six years ago.

The actual IHSA site gave me more direct information and the unprocessed details from the source, so to speak.  ESPN Rise/Dyestat, a web site that covers Illinois high school track and field and cross country, quickly published a long story written by Mike Newman that gave me more to think about.  CPSFan.com, a blog about Chicago Public Schools sports, made several posts, but it was interesting that there wasn’t much commentary from the readers.  The TrackTalk.net forum, a bulletin board with threads on various Illinois high school track and cross country topics, had two threads on the changes which provided some short form analysis, some by coaches and adults, some by the high school kids who post there most regularly.   I had some email back and forth and a telephone exchange with my colleague Matt Haffner from Saint Ignatius College Prep, where I coach and teach.

I emailed Fenwick track coach Marcus McKinley and IHSA boys state track and field meet organizer John Polka about some practical implications of the resulting change in classification for so many schools in our area.   There were big implications with the changes in terms of the arrangements for our sectional track meets.   A rotation plan for organizing these meets for the next four years, at least, had begun this year by assigning different schools as hosts for each year–and that plan now has to be scrapped because Fenwick, one of those host schools, was no longer going to be competing in the same classification anymore.

But still I wanted more.  I had an email exchange with Mike Newman, with some critique of his web site and articles as well as various quibbles and squabbles with him about the multiplier and other issues.

I also found myself wasting too much time thinking about the upcoming fall cross country season, reflecting on the spring season, and looking aimlessly through the crazy conversations of the high school kids on the TrackTalk forum just for some more input.  I found myself tracking other news, like news from the New Balance Nationals high school track meet, where meet officials miscounted laps in a championship race, as well as ongoing conversation about Orland Park Carl Sandburg High School’s star runner Lukas Verzbicas and his sub-4 minute mile last week in his last high school race.

Finally, it has struck me that I need to bite the bullet and instead of prowling for information constantly, I need to do some processing and production of my own.  My wife, a voracious book reader, writes a blog that covers pretty much anything she wants to write about, all of it written and shaped from her interesting perspective as an adoptive mother and a seventh-grade humanities teacher.  My daughter, who likes to cook, does a blog about cooking.  I have a couple friends who blog, including one by Patrick McHugh, an athletic director and track coach, who writes about his work and high school sports at his school, North Shore Country Day.

My back and forth with Mike Newman included some clear indications that I had my own point of view and ideas about various matters.  Instead of complaining, quibbling, and prowling, I should stick my own neck out there.

So here goes.

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