The opportunity to compete in post-season competition has dramatically increased in recent years, in indoor track, outdoor track and cross-country. Athletes are being given the opportunities to go up against their peers after their interscholastic seasons have ended.

Major shoe companies, Nike, Adidas and New Balance have led the way by sponsoring meets that bring the athletes together. Not only do these future stars get head to go head-to-head with their peers in the championship races, but there are divisions for those not as skilled. At this year’s meet in Boston, not only did the greatest high school athletes enter, but many others were given a chance to compete and witness those who were nationally ranked. As an example, in the boys’ championship mile, there were ten who ran under 4:10, led by Clay Shively who covered the distance in 4:00.47. 114 runners were entered in that event. Eight girls ran under 4:50 in the mile, with the first place entrant running 4:36.36. Even those who were at the back of the 100 finishers had a great experience, by having the opportunity to compete against the best of the best.

Two questions have been asked regarding the post-season championships: 1) Is the competition “watered down”? It may be in some cases, but the tremendous experiences provided for the athletes far outweigh any negatives. 2) Does the emphasis on these meets overshadow or detract from the importance of State Championships? If they do, there is something dangerously wrong with the system. NOTHING will ever provide the great and positive experience of competing for a high school team that works to achieve excellence, recognition and success for their respective schools; those teams form a bond with their teammates that will last a lifetime. As my career passes the half century mark, trust me – I can give literally hundreds of examples of the long-lasting ties that continue to this day among teammates who competed together and still maintain close friendships that began on their high school and college teams.

Overemphasis on the post season by allowing success on that level overshadows “the journey” of high school years is cheating the athletes of an invaluable experience. Let your athletes “Enjoy the Journey,” because it is over in the blink of an eye and will never be captured again.

Yours in track,

Rod O’Donnell

Read more of Coach O’Donnell’s Keeping Track articles on www.runohio.com

Keeping Track - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/486-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell-2 

Keeping Track – Remembering – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/211-keeping-track-remembering-by-rod-o-donnell   

Facts - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/100-keeping-track-facts          

Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/67-keeping-trac      

When Legends Run Free - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/396-keeping-track-when-legends-run-free-by-rod-o-donnell       

Critical Time for Cross Country and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/96-track              

Spring 2023 - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/404-keeping-track-spring-2023-by-rod-o-donnell  

2022 Thoughts - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/341-keeping-track-2022-thoughts-by-rod-o-donnell  

Life Lessons from Cross-Country - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/10-life-lessons-from-cross-country-updated-2020    

Keeping Track - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/289-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell  

Football and Track & Field - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/78-keeping-track-football-and-track-field             

Two Book Reviews - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/263-keeping-track-two-book-reviews-by-rod-o-donnell  

2021 Track & Field - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/200-keeping-track-2021-track-field       

Keeping Track - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/173-keeping-track-2     

2020 OHSAA State Cross Country Championships - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/134-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell-2020-ohsaa-state-cross-country-championships   

COVID 19 and Sports - http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/120-keeping-track-covid-19-and-sports-by-rod-o-donnell      

Marc Bloom’s Amazing Racers - https://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/features/43-keeping-track-marc-bloom-s-amazing-racers-by-rod-o-donnel    

Ohio Men College Runners – https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/235-keeping-track-ohio-men-college-runners-by-rod-o-donnell 

Marshall University add Men’s Track & Field - https://www.runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/336-keeping-track-marshall-university-add-men-s-track-field-by-rod-o-donnell  

College of William & Mary – http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/121-keeping-track-college-of-william-mary-by-rod-o-donnell     

Pick up a copy of the current RUNOHIO at your favorite running store. 

I hope to see you at a race.

Matt McGowan