Format changes for first postseason meet

Area athletes will need to travel a slightly different path on the road to the state track meet in 2015.

Gone are the days of Section 3A opening postseason competition with four sub-section meets.

Replacing the format of four sub-sections are two super sub-sections.

The change means Luverne, Hills-Beaver Creek, Adrian and Ellsworth will travel to Pipestone today (Thursday) to compete in the first South Sub-Section 3A Track and Field Championships.

Along with the four area programs, 10 other programs will compete in Pipestone.

Former Sub-Section 10 entries Fulda, Murray County Central, Pipestone and Southwest Christian-Edgerton are in the field.

Added to the mix are Cedar Mountain-Springfield-Comfrey, Heron Lake-Okabena, Jackson County Central, Mountain Lake Area, Windom, and Westbrook-Walnut Grove-Red Rock Central.

With more athletes on hand for the meet, area fans can expect a longer meet event with more heat races.

Along with a longer event, the criteria to qualifying for section competition as changed slightly.

In past years, the top four finishers in the sub-section event automatically qualified for section competition and at-large berths (four in each event) into the section field based on the performances of those who finished fifth or higher in their events.

Under the new format, the top six finishers in each event automatically qualify for section competition from each sub-section. Four more at-large berths into section competition will be based on the efforts turned in by athletes at both sub-section meets.

“The big thing for me was they kept the performance-based entries into the section meet,” said LHS veteran coach Craig Nelson.

“In order to place first or second as a team at the section meet, you need to get as many athletes as you can past the sub-section meet. Along with the 12 automatic qualifiers from each sub-section, the other four section qualifiers in each event will make it to the section meet because they deserve to be there.”

As an outsider looking in, I don’t think the new format hampers Luverne’s postseason performance as a team at all.

In my mind, LHS remains the favorite to win both team titles in Pipestone, and LHS probably will send as many athletes to the section meet as it has in the past.

“Our strategy won’t change. We’re going to take advantage of our strengths and try to get as many kids on to the state meet as we possibly can,” Nelson said.

“As for this new format, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. I’ve been coaching here for 31 years and we had a lot of success in the past, and I liked the way we did things in the past. It will be a little different this year, so we’ll see how it goes.”

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