PIAA cuts state track championships to 1-day meets but won’t reduce qualifiers

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 | 4:51 PM

The PIAA track and field championships are being condensed to one-day meets this spring, but they’ll include the same number of qualifiers as usual.

The PIAA board voted Wednesday to have Class AA boys and girls compete May 28 at Shippensburg with the Class AAA meet May 29. Traditionally, the two championships run concurrently over two days, but covid-19 restrictions led the PIAA to revamp this year’s schedule.

To fit on one day, the PIAA reduced the number of preliminary-round heats in select events but won’t reduce the number of athletes who qualify. Each classification has averaged around 1,300 qualifiers in recent years, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

“We feel that that number is manageable,” Lombardi said. “We believe that we can handle that with the number of rooms that Shippensburg is going to provide us, as well as the time schedule.”

A key concern had been housing for the athletes. The PIAA has said the university needs to reduce the number of students per room to meet covid guidelines. By cutting the championships to one day each, athletes won’t need to stay over two nights, allowing the university to sanitize rooms after the Class AA teams leave and reuse them for Class AAA athletes.

“That keeps us under the occupancy numbers but allows us a full complement of qualifiers,” PIAA chief operating officer Mark Byers said. “Especially after losing a season last year, we felt it was a great opportunity to invite as many qualifiers as possible.”

The PIAA also intends to have some spectators in the stadium. Under current state restriction, the PIAA plans to lead each qualifier bring two spectators. With approximately 1,300 athletes per day, that would equal 2,600 spectators per day. The PIAA wants to stay below 5,000 in total each day, a number that includes coaches, officials and other game-day workers as well.

The championship meets start each day at 9 a.m. and conclude around 3:30 p.m. The only events with preliminary-round heats will be the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 100 and 110 hurdles.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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