DODEA OKs track season that will end with virtual Far East meet
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 4, 2021
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Tyler Gaines and Reagan Cheramie already have Far East cross country titles.
They’ll have a chance to add to that cachet: DODEA-Pacific announced Wednesday that track and field will join a small amount of Far East events held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m excited to see what Reagan can do at distances shorter than five kilometers,” Yokota coach Dan Galvin said of Cheramie, a sophomore who won the virtual Far East cross country in 19 minutes, 10 seconds.
That meet was conducted late last year, with results announced Jan. 9.
Cheramie appears to be a candidate to run the 3,200, 1,600 and perhaps the 800 during track, as might Gaines, an E.J. King freshman who won the boys Far East cross country event in 16:59.
“Right now, we’re looking to see where he fits best,” Cobras track coach McKinzy Best said.
This will be the 11th DODEA-Pacific Far East track and field meet but the first done without all the entrants gathered in one location. That was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, which wiped out the 2020 spring sports season entirely.
International schools that traditionally compete with DODEA schools will not be participating. Spring sports are still on hold in Europe.
Yokota athletics director Tim Pujol and Matthew C. Perry coach Jason Perdew will serve as meet directors.
Pujol has directed every Far East meet since 2012. Perdew set up and scored the Far East Junior ROTC drill meet - also held virtually – earlier this year. Late last month, he made a presentation to the DODEA-Pacific athletics directors regarding virtual Far East track.
“He’s the brains behind the virtual track meet concept,” Perry athletics director George Williams said.
The meet will be held over two days - April 30 and May 1 - before the two-week Advanced Placement testing period, DODEA-Pacific athletics coordinator Tom McKinney said.
“Details are being worked on,” he said.
Some school-by-school variables can come into play regarding a virtual meet with athletes competing under different conditions in different locales, longtime Far East meet marshal Bruce Carrick said.
“The sprint variable is wind; it can make a big difference,” he said. “Wind can also affect the long jump, and it and shot put and discus can be significantly impacted by judges’ measuring practices. Time between throws and jumps is specified in the rules, but are they followed?”
There are other disadvantages for some schools such as Nile C. Kinnick in Japan, which does not have its own track, coach Luke Voth said.
“Without facilities to practice at, we have no chance to truly compete as a team,” he said, citing jumpers, hurdlers and throwers as ones being “hurt the most.” A solution, Voth said, would be for Kinnick to bus to Zama or Yokota, which have on-campus tracks.
Humphreys is the only Division I school in Korea and that “puts us at a disadvantage if we do not get to run against D-I competition,” coach Ron Merriwether said.
Despite those caveats, “track, unlike most sports can be competed remotely; there is something to compete for,” Carrick said.
E.J. King freshman Tyler Gaines won both the boys Division II title and the overall race in DODEA-Pacific's Far East high school cross country meet, held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. He's projected to run distance events for the Cobras during the Far East virtual track and field meet.
E.J. KING/FOR STARS AND STRIPES