Though most classifications at the Washington State Track and Field Championships will host the top-16 athletes across each event and relay, Class 2B, and just the boys teams, will have just 12 entries per event, per the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).
In email correspondence with The Chronicle, a WIAA spokesperson confirmed that 2B boys schools have just 49 participating schools, and need 50 to have more allocations.
Class 2B boys have 50 schools that normally would have teams eligible to participate, but White Swan High School did not meet the minimum of five participants at the time of reporting its turnout to the WIAA.
Though a widely-circulated letter by Rainier head track and field coach Josh Frunz said White Swan did not report on time, the WIAA clarified that White Swan did report in a timely manner, but did not have enough athletes to be considered a participating program at the deadline to report.
That deadline this season was March 14-18, per the WIAA.
In White Swan’s last league meet on April 26, the program had seven boys participants.
“While it is unfortunate given the outcome, the proper allocation process was followed as outlined in the WIAA Handbook,” WIAA Sports and Activities Information Director Casey Johnson said in an email to The Chronicle. “Spring allocations were taken in the second week of the season and, at that time, all schools that met the team definition of five participants were reported. These numbers were verified over an additional week with each of the WIAA District Directors, giving additional opportunity to see increased numbers.
“There is misinformation circling that White Swan High School made a clerical error which resulted in an allocation count of 49 schools at the 2B level instead of 50. This is not true. White Swan and its league representative reported on time, however, the school did not meet the minimum of five participants at the time of reporting.
“A firm deadline for counting schools toward allocations is imperative, as the addition or subtraction of a school could alter the distribution and number of entries around the state. Therefore, it is important that this process and timeline be followed, not only for equity purposes among various sports and classification, but also for planning purposes at the league, district and state level.”
It's not the first time Class 2B schools have seen its state entries cut this year. In football, just 12 schools were given state bids while most other classifications had 16. As a result, teams that were seeded in the top-4 were given a bye and four schools that otherwise would have qualified did not.
With 15 individual boys events at the track and field championships, 60 athletes that would have otherwise qualified for state in almost any other year will not qualify this year. Additionally, with two relay events at the state championships, many athletes and alternates will also miss out in those events.
In his letter, Frunz mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic and lost seasons as reason enough to raise the allocations before the championships start on May 26.
“Haven’t our kids lost enough the past few years of Covid?” Frunz asked in the letter shared on Twitter. “There has not been a state track meet in two years. An entire season of track was lost in 2020 and kids had to participate in masks for last year’s shortened season, not to mention all the experiences they missed in school and many other activities. Kids have paid the price during this pandemic.
“The WIAA needs to put the kids first period. They have chosen not to do so and should be ashamed of themselves.”
As of May 3, the WIAA has made no plans to reverse its decision.