The Homewood HS girls 4x400 relay team hands off the baton at the 2017 State Meet (Photo by Tim Loreman)
Two months ago, I teased changes were on the way concerning the 4x400. After the AHSAA Central Board meeting Wednesday, I can officially make the announcement.
Beginning in the 2018 Outdoor Track & Field season, the 4x400 will be contested in a new way at the state track meet. Relay teams will advance to the state meet in the usual fashion from sectionals and will be seeded at the state based on sectional performances. This is where it changes.....
Moving forward, the event will be split up on different days. The top 8 teams in each division will still compete at the end of the second day, however every other team in each division will compete on a previous day. A schedule & assigned day has not been changed in the new AHSAA Sports Book but should be expected soon. No change in the indoor season 4x400 will be made.
Event 734 Boys 4x400 Meter Relay 7A (23) =============================================================================== Saturday 5/6/2017 - 2:30 PM 4567A Rec: 3:21.31 5/2/2015 James Clemens High School, James Clemens A Anderson, A Bolden, A Caudle, J Burks School Seed Finals =============================================================================== THURSDAY - slower seeds Section 1 Timed Finals 1 Tuscaloosa County 3:39.86 2 Lee-Montgomery 3:38.00 3 Jeff Davis 3:34.14 4 Foley 3:33.18 5 Grissom 3:33.74 6 Enterprise 3:37.80 7 Gadsden City 3:39.84 Section 2 Timed Finals 1 Huffman 3:30.88 2 Sparkman 3:28.81 3 Baker 3:27.11 4 Thompson 3:25.07 5 Mountain Brook 3:25.86 6 Auburn 3:28.71 7 Spain Park 3:29.71 8 Davidson 3:32.25 SATURDAY - top 8 seeds Section 3 Timed Finals 1 James Clemens High School 3:24.88 2 Huntsville 3:23.75 3 Smiths Station 3:21.27 4 Hoover 3:18.73 5 Central-Phenix City 3:19.22 6 Bob Jones 3:23.35 7 McGill-Toolen 3:24.53 8 Hewitt-Trussville 3:24.95
The Central Phenix City girls win the 7A 4x400 relay in the 2017 State Meet (Photo by Tim Loreman)
So how does this affect teams? Before you take to the street rioting about tradition, weather differences, and the "norm," let's stop and reflect on this. While one may argue about weather differentials, you can also argue that an athlete competing on an earlier day might be fresher than an athlete competing on a later day (one day's less events). Slower seeded teams may benefit in this case. On the other hand, the top 8 seeded teams can actually plan their warmup correctly and not be stuck waiting forever on 30+ heats of 4x400s.
Will this change make getting to this point a bit more quickly and exciting?
Why the change? Arguably track meets are boring for the average spectator. Ideally, the 4x400 is the last event between two close teams fighting it out for a state championship. Everyone remember the epic 6A Girls 4x400 that pitted Mountain Brook and Hoover where every leg was neck and neck and the winner would win state? One can argue it loses some of the excitement while sitting around for 3 hours to compete.
This change has the full support of the AHSAA and was mostly supported by the committee.