While everything eventually turned out fine, things did not start good for Blacksburg and junior Cole Beck this past weekend.
Entering the 3A competition last weekend, Cole Beck was the odds on favorite to take home the 55m state crown. He entered the meet only having run once back in December but still ranked 6th in the entire nation. His seed time of 6.36 easily ranked him the top seed in the state championships as well.
Though his season started with a bang, it only managed a fizzle for the majority of it due to a severe shoulder injury that plagued him nearly all season. Despite having to battle that, being the true competitor he is, he laced up his spikes at Roanoke College to try and bring home the team title for Blacksburg.
In his first race of states, the 55m dash, things started great but took a sharp and unexpected turn.
In his 55m dash prelim (prelim #3) he got a great start and quickly pulled away from the field. He then dipped his head and ran to the side just like many other athletes do in each and every race. This made complete since considering he had battled a shoulder injury and definitely did not want to run full-speed into a wall.
Things were not as cut and dry though.
Due to the wide turns on Roanoke College's track, the 55m and 60m finish lines are in a different place than the common finish line. This was evident at the 1A/2A state championships as well considering not a single race had been ever run on this track until this weekend. That difference meant numerous athletes leaned and pulled up five meters before the actual finish line.
Though it seems harmless in that context, the officials thought differently and immediately raised a yellow flag up after Cole ran directly in front of another athlete's finish. He was then subsequently disqualified from the competition for impeding.
Obviously this ruling was battled toughly by Blacksburg who knew about his injury and the simple fact that many individuals did not know which finish line was the right one. It was also obvious that his actions were not malicious at all and after looking at the video it is clear he did not impede anyone either.
Thankfully the officials and committee overturned that ruling and allowed Cole to run in the finals. He went on to run 6.41 despite a bad start and take home the 3A state title. Those points were integral in also bringing home the team title for Blacksburg. The officials were fair and ran a two section final with nine individuals instead of eight and added a finish line tape to alleviate confusion.
All of this got us thinking though whether it was the right call or not. What do you think?