Written by Brandon George
Absent from Austin: Dallas-area powers to skip Texas Relays
The Texas Relays usually serve as a preview to the state track and field meet in May, but many of the top North Texas high school boys and girls teams are staying home this year.
The Class 4A Lancaster boys and Class 5A Skyline girls — both three-time defending state champions — are among area teams not competing at the Texas Relays on Friday and Saturday in Austin because the elite meet takes place so close to district meets this season.
The Texas Relays conclude Saturday evening, and almost all high school teams begin their district meets no later than Wednesday and as early as Monday. That leaves little time for athletes to recover from facing elite competition, especially considering the risk of injuring themselves so close to the all-important district meets.
“District is more important than the Texas Relays,” Skyline girls coach Chris Mitchell said. “Normally, you’d have that week between if something does happen, you may could get them back healthy. You can’t take that chance.”
The Texas Relays typically take place the first weekend of April, but when there are five weekends in April, the meet is run the second weekend of the month. The same situation occurred in 2008, and the Texas Relays experienced a similar drop in competition. Additionally this year, the UIL moved the district certification deadline up from Friday to Thursday, meaning all district track meets must be completed by Thursday.
James Barr, in his fourth year as the Texas Relays meet director, said about 700 high school teams entered last year’s Texas Relays and that number has dropped to about 500 this year. Barr said that in 2008, however, about 250 teams entered the meet. Considering this year’s high school field is twice what it was in 2008, Barr is pleased about the entries.
“We have really deep fields on the high school end,” Barr said, “and we’re happy where we are.”
That said, Barr and the Texas Relays officials aren’t taking any more chances. In February, they decided to break tradition and move future Texas Relays to the last weekend of March. Next year’s Texas Relays will be March 28-31.
“We worked with the UIL on it, and it allows them to have great district meets on their end and our numbers should be outstanding participation-wise in the future,” Barr said.
This year’s Texas Relays will look nothing like the many before it on the high school side. Among the area’s top teams not competing this season are the DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Southlake Carroll boys and the DeSoto, Mansfield Timberview and Lancaster girls.
Two of the state’s largest school districts will have little representation at the Texas Relays. Roosevelt and A. Maceo Smith are the only Dallas ISD boys and girls teams entered (Bryan Adams has one girl entered). The Western Hills boys team is the only Fort Worth ISD team entered.
Area leaders in only five boys and four girls events will compete at the Texas Relays, though the meet doesn’t offer the 200, 400 and 800 meters and 300 hurdles races.
Future Texas Relays
2012: March 28-31
2013: March 27-30
2014: March 26-29
2015: March 25-28
2016: March 30-April 2