Eight Grays Harbor high schools operate track programs. Exactly half of those will not stage a home meet this season.
Wishkah and Taholah lack a conventional track facility, which makes their traditional success at the state level more remarkable.
Aberdeen and Montesano, meanwhile, have track maintenance issues that will keep them on the road this year.
Damage from the 2012 Rottle Field fire have rendered some lanes of the Montesano track unusable for full-fledged meets, although the grandstand has been rebuilt and Monte did conduct the pole vault portions of last week’s Ray Ryan Memorial Grays Harbor All-County Meet.
Aberdeen’s Miller Junior High track has long been plagued by drainage difficulties, requiring the Bobcats to travel for the vast majority of their meets in recent years.
The Bobcats were originally scheduled to host Capital on April 30. In Aberdeen’s lone 2013 home appearance, however, visiting coaches declined to send some of their top athletes.
“The other teams in the league didn’t feel it was a safe facility,” Aberdeen athletic director Ken Ashlock said.
Fearing a repeat of that scenario, school officials agreed to move this year’s meet to Olympia.
Maintenance work on the Montesano and Aberdeen tracks are scheduled for this summer and both schools expect to resume hosting meets next year.
If all goes well, Montesano will likely be the site for the 2015 all-county meet (which rotates among several Grays Harbor venues).
“We are planning to host it,” Montesano athletic director Tim Trimble said. “We believe it is our turn.”
Aberdeen, which has never hosted the all-county meet since its revival in the early 1990s, could be next in line.
“As soon as we have a track qualified to do that, why wouldn’t we do it?,” Ashlock said.
The lack of a permanent site for the all-county meet can be largely attributed to the difficulties in organizing a volunteer work force. Hosting a track meet can be a massive undertaking from a staffing level.
While the home school needs only to supply only four people — scorekeeper, scoreboard and shot-clock operators and public address announcer — in addition to ticket-takers and concession-stand personnel at a basketball game, Hoquiam track coach Tim Pelan said a minimum of 23 volunteers — including at least 16 adults — are required at a standard track meet. Those include eight timers, a starter and at least two staffers at every field event.
“This is the one sport where home-field advantage isn’t always a good thing,” Pelan wryly noted.
Fortunately, track coaches may be the closest-knit of any coaching fraternity and are usually willing to help out even at meets they are not hosting.
North Beach and Wishkah, example, joined forces for the operation of the all-county meet in the two years the Hyaks hosted it. Both those meets were very efficiently run.
This year’s all-county meet was split between two East County sites. But the champion in one event didn’t compete at either venue.
Elma staged the bulk of the meet last Saturday. Since that school lacks a pole-vault facility, the vaults were originally scheduled for the previous day at Montesano.
After viewing an unfavorable weather forecast for Friday, meet officials moved the pole vaults to Wednesday. Ocosta was unable to arrange transportation to Montesano that day, so the Wildcat vaulters were allowed to compete at their home facility.
Once marks were compared, Ocosta freshman Matthew Hart was declared the boys champion.
“There is a certain amount of trust we all have for each other,” Pelan said. “Egos are not common in track.”
Only in high school track would an all-county champion be crowned on the honor system. The likes of Nick Saban and John Calipari might not buy it, but that’s actually a pretty refreshing concept in this day and age.
Rick Anderson: (360) 537-3924; firstname.lastname@example.org.