Moving track regional to other site was needed

THE Navarre Fairless High School site has long been northeast Ohio’s gathering space for the regional qualifiers of Division III track and field athletes.

This May, that changes, hopefully for the better as the regional venue moves to Massillon Perry High School.

It’s 15 minutes closer for Mahoning Valley schools, but it is touted as a much better site.

Ohio High School Athletic Association Director of Cross Country and Track and Field was kind enough to give me thoughts behind the change through an email.

He said the change has nothing to do about coaches complaining or any specific concerns.

Gabor said there were many things that went into the change, which I personally am looking forward to seeing. In the past Massillon Perry has held Federal League and Stark County Meets, so considering the quality programs in the Canton area, on face value, it seems like a great fit heading to Perry High School.

“The decision to move was probably more my doing than anyone’s,” Gabor said. “I had some concerns starting with meet management.”

That’s something we in the Mahoning Valley normally do not have any issues with considering the great officials and, for the most part, the ways meets are run around this area.

Gabor said there were issues at Navarre such as sectors of the shot put being incorrect. There wasn’t a registered OHSAA official at the discus area. Then, there was no padding around the pit of the pole vault area, leaving a hard surface exposed. Gabor said this was against National Federation of High Schools regulations. Also, the runway is supposed to be 130 feet. Gabor said he measured around 120 at Navarre.

Gabor added issues were addressed after he said something, but other issues continued to arise.

There were three sites considered for the new Division III regional — GlenOak, Orrville and Perry. However GlenOak withdrew because hosting a district meet, instead of a regional, fit with its schedule.

That left Orrville and Perry. I initially thought Perry was a much better decision because of the travel. But, looking at the map, the travel from Warren to both sites are about the same to Perry and Orrville.

Gabor said for 47 of the 69 schools eligible to compete in the regional, it would be shorter to go to Orrville, while Perry had the edged with 50 of the 67.

“To be 100 percent honest, this weighed very heavily in my decision,” Gabor said.

He added “the facility at Perry has seating only on one side (the finish line side — similar to Ohio State), but they also provide portable bleachers at each of the field events, which neither Navarre nor Orrville could do. The other factor that weighed heavily with me was the fact that Perry has years of experience hosting major invitationals. I know of at least two invitationals with 30 teams that Perry hosts each year.”

That said, is this a temporary move? Will the OHSAA move the regional again in 2018?

“That I really can’t answer,” Gabor said. “In all of our sports we are always evaluating our venues and always trying to provide the very best that we can. If I made a huge blunder and find out that Perry can’t do the job, would I consider moving? Yes. Do I think that’s going to happen? No. I did a lot of research on this before making the move and spoke to numerous coaches and officials. I feel really good that Massillon Perry will do an excellent job, and I look forward to visiting there during their regional competition.”

McDonald boys track and field coach Lou Domitrovich told me, “when you leave a track and field meet the week before the state meet you should be talking more about the kids and their performances rather than the facility and the people running the meet.”

It should be about the four athletes in each event moving on to Columbus — nothing else. Let’s hope Perry High School can provide this for the great talent in the Mahoning Valley and other Division III athletes in the northeast Ohio district.