Indoor track is a difficult season when it comes to streamlining. For starters there are only a few venues that actually have indoor tracks and even less of them have a good surface. That leads to the craziness that ensues every post-season with state qualifying standards and seeding. This is extremely true in the Richmond area which has no 200m track open to use within 2 hours of the city.
Though there are 15 events indoors, there are only two that are really affected by using outdoor or polar bear times and those events are the 300 and 4x200m relay. All the other events are not affected one way or another to a degree that would call for change.
Those two events though, are certainly a point of contention. Is it fair to allow 300 or 4x2 times run outdoors to qualify for the state meet? To be seeded in the state meet?
There are really only four options when it comes to this dilemma. The first is to allow all polar bear/outdoor times. The second is to not allow any polar bear/outdoor times. The third is to allow every event except the 300/4x2 and the final is to allow them to qualify athletes but be seeded as a NT if they haven't run a time indoors.
Last year just one region was run outdoors and this year there will be at least two regions outdoors. Last year's region though exemplifies the problem pretty clearly.
Here are the numbers that really caused a stir last year. This region qualified 16 guys to the state meet for the 300. That meant every single athlete who ran at regionals advanced. It also meant that after teams entered, just one region represented 42% (15/36) of the entries and had the three top qualifying marks. They also had five individuals in the top 10 seeded spots.
Results wise though the best finisher was 6th. This isn't to say the athletes aren't good enough to be at the state meet, it is though saying that there was something way wrong with the seeding when the top three seeds all finished outside of the top five.
The 4x2 was not quite as bad but still stood out. The same region qualified seven teams into the state meet in the sprint relay while only qualifying five in the 4x4 and three in the 4x8 as a region. The bigger issue then became seeding where this region took up the majority of priority lanes but did not win a single of the four sections of this event.
This year the state meet favorites will likely come from this region (L.C. Bird and Highland Springs) but seeding will still be an issue. Is it fair that two regions will use outdoor times for seeding? Should they only be allowed to enter the meet on those outdoor times but be seeded on their indoor bests?
Having auto-qualifying marks is way more good than bad and you don't want to ruin an overall good system because of two events. That being said, it is clear that change is needed because it is unfair to the athletes competing when the seeding at the state meet is that far off.