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Home News-Telegram Sports All dressed up and nowhere to go -- SS athletes halted by UIL ruling

All dressed up and nowhere to go -- SS athletes halted by UIL ruling

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It was a toss-up between the UIL ruling and an April thunderstorm.

Both put a damper on athletics at Sulphur Springs Wednesday afternoon, the UIL was more lasting.

The UIL cancelled all events - athletic and academic - until May 11. This knocks not only baseball and softball players off the diamond for a while, but for many track athletes it ends their season.

The UIL press release said: "Regional Track Meets: All UIL regional track meets originally scheduled for this weekend, May 1-2, have been cancelled.  The state track and field meet will be extended to a three-day format to include semifinal heats. The meet is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 14-16.

Semifinal qualifiers will be based on the district track meet results. Each region will be represented at the state meet by the top four performances in each event for all conferences. Hand-held times will be converted to fully automatic times as defined by the National Federation of State High School Association rules.  A revised track and field state meet schedule will be posted on the UIL web site no later than Friday, May 1.  Qualifiers to the UIL state track and field meet will be posted on the UIL web site on Wednesday, May 6."

According to reports Thursday, the UIL was reconsidering holding regional track meets. A possible ruling could come later this week.

For Sulphur Springs, according to recent times and distances all three of their competitors Shane McQueen, Bryant (Day Day) Jackson and Ross Hicks would not compete. Just as quickly as a spring thunderstorm and with a clap of thunder - boom - the track season is over.

McQueen was second in the 300-meter hurdles at the district meet with a time of 39.33;  Jackson jumped 21-1 in the long jump for third and had a leap of 34-7 1/4 for third in the triple jump. Ross Hicks came in fourth in the district meet with a time of 10:25.45 in the 3,200-meter run. Hicks was given a berth in regional when third place finisher, Juan Ramirez with a time of 10:21.06 dropped out.

"It's not good, the kids have worked hard," Sulphur Springs track coach Jeff Riordan said of the ruling. "With the times and distances they have now and if UIL just takes the top four to Austin, we won't have anybody competing."

Riordan explained that Hicks, Jackson and McQueen had been putting in extra work to make their times or distances at regional berth, so they could possibly earn a trip to state. McQueen, who is also an outfielder on the Wildcat baseball team, has been running extra on the weekends and getting his sprint times down to help his hurdle performance.

Riordan said, "Shane has already taken .4 off his time. He is doing extra conditioning and work because of the meets he missed when he was involved with baseball. The thing I keep thinking about how disappointing it is for all the kids involved. Day Day was a runner-up, he also has a job, but he has been putting in the work. Now he feels like he wasted two week.  Hicks has been running 30-40 miles a week to get ready and get his conditioning up. This is the last year for Hicks, he’s a senior. Day Day and Shane have next year at least to try."

All three athletes seemed taken off guard by the UIL ruling, their heads down cast as they walked around the weight room. The sounds of football off-season players lifting weights only dulled by the relentless rain on the tin roof.

"Shane really had the best chance," Riordan said. "The other guys wanted to go and compete. They're all disappointed if their season ends."

The process of taking the top four sounds fair, but coaches pointed out that the top times might not always been the best competitors, especially for athletes involved in multiple events.

Some athletes might be trying to place in one event, then get a time in another and not fully concentrate on getting the lowest time, just making the regional meet.

"So guys who are in multiple events don't go full speed," Riordan said. "Maybe they were saying strength of other events. It's not a fair deal, but its a decision I can't do anything about. You don't want to jeopardize the health of students.  Track is huge in Texas, and this is a big  cost to UIL."

Hicks, a distance runner and member of the cross country team, is used to dealing with obstacles, both on and off the track and took the news of his season possibly being over with a stoic glance.

"I just don't know, it happens. I am disappointed. I did not want the race at district to be my last race in high school,"  Hicks said. "But there's nothing I can do. I just ran 15, 300-meter sprints and now I feel like it was for nothing. I just wanted the chance to run as hard as I could and see what happened."

Jackson said, "It's disappointing, but I will probably have a better chance next year as a senior to win because I will be bigger and stronger. It is what it is."

"It sucks...it’s terrible," said hurdler McQueen. "I have been going since the last two or three meets non-stop trying to get in condition. It all feels like it was for nothing. I feel like I was getting quicker and my times were coming down. I was pretty sure I could get either first or second and make state."

Track assistant coach Derek Smith said, "They have been working so hard, it's a shame. The times were getting better, we have to do what the UIL says."

Sulphur Springs head football coach and athletic director Greg Owen said, "You deal with it and move on. It doesn't seem fair, especially to kids in multiple events. But a lot of issues are involved, the people at UIL are paid to make these decisions and they're doing what they think is right for the people involved. For Ross Hicks, it looks like his track career is over, for Day Day and Shane, they have next year."

"The UIL is between a rock and hard place," Owens said. "It would be really hard to reschedule a regional meet. Making this decision also affects other sports like baseball and softball as well as all the academic events which were scheduled. They (UIL) made the call and we have to live with it."




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