The Connecticut high school indoor track community, relegated to only indoor practices the past two months this winter season due to the pandemic, received some positive news Thursday when the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced it will be allowing competitive indoor track and field meets in March.
The competition will be limited to dual meets, and outdoor tracks can be used if weather permits. The announcement has scholastic officials scrambling to put together plans and schedules together in less than 10 days with competitive meets set to debut on March 1.
The CIAC is allowing all indoor track venues to hold meets, including the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. CIAC assistant executive director Henry Rondon said venues must also get permission from their local health departments and district officials (Board of Ed) to hold meets.
“The CIAC’s announcement was a bit vague,” Southern Connecticut Conference Commissioner Al Carbone said. “We assume that it will be only league competition as it has been for the most part this past fall and currently in the winter with the exception of boys ice hockey.
“This is great news for the indoor track athletes, who will get a chance to compete. The winter season goes until March 28, so we have some time to develop a plan.”
Carbone admits there are a few challenges.
“With the recent snowfall, we have a bit of logistical challenges with schools using outdoor tracks to practice, and with really one facility, Floyd Little Athletic Center, in which to use,” Carbone said. “However, New Haven city athletic director Erik Patchkofsky and his staff developed an outstanding plan for indoor track events earlier in the winter, and one that utilizes both indoor and outdoor competition. The SCC plans on offering some meets, but we first need to work with Erik and his staff to determine some parameters and options so our league teams can compete.”
Patchkofsky said Floyd Little Athletic Center has permission to move forward with indoor track meets.
“We met with the New Haven Health Department (Director Maritza Bond) and they gave the OK,” Patchkofsky said. “I will be meeting with Al Carbone on Monday to figure out how to proceed from here. We will use the facility for Hillhouse, Wilbur Cross and all the SCC boys and girls teams. But we need to figure out if we want to open the facility up to leagues outside the SCC.
“We only have so many slots to fill, especially when you only are allowed dual meets. The original plan we put together in December to host meets at Floyd Little Athletic Center needs adjustments since we will only have dual meets now. It’s nothing major, but we want to make sure we fit in with the CIAC guidelines.”
Floyd Little Athletic Center track meet supervisor-coordinator Bob Davis, with input from Hillhouse track coach Gary Moore and Wilbur Cross track coach Travis Gale, put together a detailed plan to host meets at the venue. It addressed every aspect of a track meet from start to finish, producing protocols specific to each event in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference commissioner Dave Schulz said planning for competitive track meets in March is a work in progress for him and FCIAC school officials.
“The state only allows two teams at a time to compete against each other,” Schulz said. “We are looking into what we may be able to do either inside or outside if possible. When it comes to scheduling, we will be looking into this with our ADs (athletic directors) next week.”
Rondon clarified some indoor track details. He confirmed that all meets will be dual meets in March. Leagues will determine if they want to compete outside their league. It will be up to each facility and district officials (Board of Ed) to review their capacity limits if they allow fans and set those guidelines.
“The Floyd Little Athletic Center and any other indoor track venues can host these meets,” Rondon said. “But they must get approval from their local department of public health and district officials. I am not sure where we will be in late March, so that may determine if leagues are allowed to pull off postseason meets.”
Despite the short timeframe to plan for meets starting March 1, Carbone, Shultz and Patchkofsky said they will be prepared.
“We’ll be ready to go,” Patchkofsky said.