A comparison of times between performances at the region meets and season best performances (excluding athletes that reached the state standard) tells two very different stories and is evidence that there is an advantage to running a regional meet at a fast track. For example, in the Central region, Alex Tuck and John Terrell both ran two seconds slower than their PR's in the region meet in the 500m run, resulting in them being seeded in the slow heat rather that the heat above them. Kip Burns also ran two seconds slower than his PR, and his seed put him in the second slowest heat rather than the second fastest. In the 1000m run, the same situation arises with Arthur Vandenesse. His regional time was 3 seconds slower than his PR, and if his PR was used for seeding, he would be running in the fast heat on Saturday. Also, Douglas Freeman, Atlee and Lee-Davis fell victim to the Ashe center, running between 4-6 seconds slower in the 4x400m relay than season bests posted by those teams. The other region affected is the Northwestern, held at the "box bank" at VMI. In the 1000m run, Luke Thomas ran 2:36.94 during the regular season, but was seeded at 2:41.53 (in the slow heat). Also, Mike Lyng was bumped down to the slow heat in the 3200m run. Lyng's PR of 9:48 was not seeded, but his 10:04.79 time from regionals was. The coincidence is too great to be explained simply by stating "maybe they had bad races at regionals." After all, athletes from the Northern and Eastern region are just as likely to perform poorly on any particular day, but nearly every athlete ran a PR at regional competition from these regions. Many athletes dropped considerable time, bumping them ahead of runners from Central and Northwestern that beat them in previous head-to-head competition. (The girls competition involves the same situation).
It seems obvious that athletes from the Northern and Eastern region have an advantage by having faster region times to be seeded at States. The question is of course, "What difference does that make?" There isn't any tangible evidence that proves that running with faster people will make you run faster, but in general, runners agree that having people to push you improves your ability to run hard. It is also true that being in a faster heat may be detrimental to a runners performance (as in going out too hard or losing contact with the pack), but in general it seems that if the playing field were leveled, runners from all regions would be seeded appropriately, and the runners with the best performances would be seeded the highest. The solution isn't to change location of the regional meets, but to accept regular season (non-qualifying) times of those athletes who placed top six and earned a trip to the State meet, and a fair chance to do their best.