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Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual.
Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual. (MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES)
Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual.
Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual. (MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES)
Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual.
Runners head into the last lap of the girls 800-meter race at the 2019 DODEA-Europe track and field championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, during the last time finals were held. Last year's track season was canceled due to the coronavirus. This year, the championships will only be virtual. (MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES)

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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Since the early part of 2020, most of the annual offerings from the DODEA-Europe sports calendar have been either curtailed or canceled.

Track and field will join the short list of sports with season-ending championships.

A virtual season will be held in April and May, Kathy Clemmons, athletic director for the Department of Defense Education Activity in Europe, said Tuesday. And any student who has met the mandatory 10-practice requirement can compete.

So track – which would join only cross country and marksmanship in holding European-wide finals this school year – could have the most wide-open event in decades.

“This is not normal,” Clemmons said. “There’s nothing normal about it. But our track and field coaches deserve a lot of credit. They’re willing to do whatever they can do to make this happen.”

DODEA-Pacific is facing a similar situation and has announced plans to hold a virtual Far East meet April 30-May 1.

Teams in Europe will compete solely at their own facilities in three meets (April 19-23, April 26-30, May 10-14) and the finals (May 17-21). Each has the same structure:

Monday – 4x400 meter relay, 4x800 relay. Tuesday – 800, 3,200. Wednesday – 1,600, sprint medley relay, long jump, discus. Thursday – Triple jump, high jump, shot put. Friday – 100, 200, 400, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4x100 relay.

So champions will be crowned in 34 events. Individual athletes can compete in four events including relays. But Clemmons said that no qualifying results will be needed. That could, in theory, dramatically increase the number of athletes participating.

Results from the first three weeks will be shared and will be used primarily to determine how individual athletes measure up to the competition.

But that doesn’t mean there potentially won’t be surprises. Clemmons said some schools will not fully participate. Some might miss multiple meets. A few could only end up competing in the finals.

“Technically, if they had the 10 practices, yes,” Clemmons said of the possibility.

Still, a single meet is likely more than those in other sports could get. Clemmons said softball, baseball and soccer teams at some schools are currently practicing. But unless conditions in Europe improve, that’s all they’ll probably be doing this spring.

“I don’t see us getting approval for transportation,” she said of the current restrictions in place.

And since other spring sports – similar to most others in the winter and fall – can’t be conducted virtually, competition is unlikely, she said.

harris.kent@stripes.com Twitter: @kharris4stripes

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