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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – With the deadline for qualifying for this month’s Far East track and field meet come and gone, some of the luster seems to have gone out of the Okinawa district finals, coaches and athletes say.

Time was when the district finals would produce the fastest times of the season, especially from when the Far East meet came onto the map in 2010 and athletes would try their best to post times that would get them into the top 10, automatically qualifying them for the meet.

But in 2012, qualifying standards were added for the Far East meet by DODDS Pacific and a deadline established for coaches to submit qualifying times and distances to the area office – the last Saturday of April.

That’s a week before the Okinawa district meet, traditionally held the first Saturday of May. That has some athletes suggesting the meet be pushed to that last Saturday in April.

“It does make a difference because of how much effort you put in,” Kadena sophomore distance runner Wren Renquist said. “If you have it before the deadline, you can have people pushing you to get your qualifying times, so I feel like people would run faster.”

The main reason the deadline is so early, according to DODDS officials, is the need to book air passage for so many athletes to fly to Tokyo, particularly from the four DODDS Korea schools. Passports and other documents must accompany names to be placed on airline tickets.

No athletes or coaches have said they plan to hold anything back at districts just because qualifying deadline is past, though.

“You still want to get better. It’s competition,” Kubasaki athletics director and former track coach Jon Fick said. “You still want to win three meets during the season, the Mike Petty, districts and Far East.”

So don’t expect Renquist, her teammates and opponents from three other schools at the meet to run with one foot on the brake.

“I’m going to try to go all out,” said Kadena sophomore Javier Michael. “It’s still districts. Even though I may have qualified and everything, it’s still districts. You get a lot of bragging rights at districts, so I’m going to go all out and do my best.”

“We have a lot of recovery time for Far East” which is scheduled for May 21-22 at Yokota, Michael said. “So, I’m pretty confident I can go all out at districts.”

Kadena has swept every team title there has been to be won all season, including the Petty meet. Michael feels this week should be no different. “If everybody is just as motivated as they’ve been all season, I think we’ll pull through and do just as well,” he said.

Action begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Koza City Stadium, just outside Gate 5 of Kadena Air Base.

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