Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oh, the Mighty Wind!

The wind at all the state meet sites played a major factor today. At Rockford the winds were strong and crazy. There were races that measured as wind-aided where the runners hit a head wind at the very end. The swirling winds were so bizarre that twice I saw flags about 20 feet apart blowing in opposite directions!

We had a wind gauge on all the sprints. Counting the heats, about half of them were wind-aided and therefore ineligible for records. Maximum legal wind is 2.0 meters per second. That's about four-and-a-half mph. Picture a car moving that slow--illegal wind is really much more mild than most people think. At Rockford, the highest we measured was 9.7mps, or over 21mph.

Brings to mind something a coach told me once: "We don't need a wind gauge. We call a meet wind-aided when the tents start flying." That happened in the finals at Rockford, and by the look on Ray Antel's face, I could tell that it was an East Kentwood tent. "We just fixed it," he groaned.

Speaking of crazy wind, I'm sure everyone's thrilled about Brandon VanDriel's 10.52 in D2. Trust me. I wasn't even there and I would bet my firstborn plus my prodigious teaching salary that it was blown by a healthy wind. Not having a gauge there does not make it a record. VanDriel's mark will end up on the national lists as wind-aided. That's how they regard marks where there is cause for suspicion (29mph wind gusts throughout the Grand Rapids area) and no legitimate wind reading.

Can we get wind gauge volunteers? For the past seven years I have supplied a wind gauge to the D1 meet, along with slave labor to operate it (my daughter this year). The officials have been very helpful and accommodating. Wind gauges are selling now for $40-50. Any other fans out there want to volunteer to help cover D2-D3-D4 next year?

Without those wind readings, the MHSAA might still count something as a record, but history won't. The only state all-time records I recognize in the annual yearbook are marks that come with a legitimate wind-reading and fully-automatic timing (in the sprints). Face it. Our track kids work hard. And kids like VanDriel are really fast. They deserve for us to follow the rules and measure their performances accurately.

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