Walk the stage or run the race? Track athletes could face tough decision

By Maya Golden - bio | email

For many student athletes the rush of a heart-pounding race will be just as thrilling as those anxious steps to accept their high school diploma.

But many Texas high school seniors could be forced to pick one over the other.

Last week the University Interscholastic League rescheduled the state track and field meet for June 5th-6th in the wake of the H1N1 virus spread. Those dates are the same weekend that school districts across the state have scheduled graduation ceremonies.

At many schools like Big Sandy High School, there is concern for the seniors likely to qualify for state at the upcoming regional meets.

"I have two senior boys and about four senior girls and as of now they're just going to have to choose," Big Sandy track coach Derrick Floyd said. "It has been brought to the attention of the UIL and also our administrators know. I think that they are working on an alternative plan just in case we do make it to state."

Wildcat senior Jazz Montgomery qualified last year and is confident she can do it again. Jazz has already made her choice.

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to go to state because it's my last year, it's my last shot," she said. "They're both once in a lifetime (chances) but, I want to go to state as a senior. So, I guess people will be disappointed if I miss my graduation."

Ronny Chalk believes his events would not fall on graduation day. If that is not the case, mom has chosen for him.

"My mama, she was not going to let me go to state," Ronny said. "So, I didn't really have a choice. It was going to be difficult for me to deal with, making it to state and not being able to compete."

KLTV 7 Sports Director Maya Golden contacted Kim Rogers with the UIL and received this response: "We understand that the modified date of the state track meet may conflict with other events, like graduation, but we had to make a decision that we felt would represent the best opportunity for the greatest number of students to participate. We made the best decision we could with the dates available to us to hold the state track meet after the rescheduled regional meets."

Those dates pose another academic problem for Tim Sunday. Tim is a junior trying to secure his senior goal of getting a college scholarship. He was set to take the SAT's on June 6th. 

"We're going to try and see if we can reschedule (the test) in Austin if they have an open position," Tim said. "But if they don't, I'll just have to stay here because I'm going to get my SAT's done."

It is academics versus athletics, and for students in this case, either choice means missing out.

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