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Md. prep football playoff expansions passes first test

MPSSAA also agrees to reinstate the pole vault as a team event, find new location for wrestling tournament

MPSSAA also agrees to reinstate the pole vault as a team event, find new location for wrestling tournament

April 26, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The MPSSAA Board of Control spent Friday clearing a number of hurdles, but only one had anything to do with track.

The governing body for Maryland's public school athletics agreed on proposals to expand the number of playoff teams in football and to reinstate the pole vault as a scored event in track meets, as opposed to the exhibition status the event was given in the 2003 season.

The committee also agreed on a motion to move the state wrestling tournament from McDaniel College to a new venue.

The vote which could have the largest impact is the one which could expand the state playoffs in the four enrollment clssifications from eight to 16 teams - making the first two rounds of the tournament a true regional format.

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"The Board of Control voted favorably on the proposal to expand the playoffs, but everyone has to remember that this is just the first hurdle," said Yogi Martin, Supervisor of Athletics and Physical Educationd for Washington County. "If we can get past the rest of the hurdles, this will be used in the 2003 season."

In order for the proposal to be adopted, the playoff system will need favorable votes by the state superintendents and then the state board of education to be implemented.

Under the plan, the top four teams from each region would qualify for the playoffs, with the top two teams hosting the first-round games. The quarterfinals would be played at the home of the highest remaining seed.

If the plan would have been used last season, Boonsboro and Catoctin would have joined South Hagerstown in the Class 1A playoffs. The plan would add a fourth week to the playoffs, much like the format in West Virginia.

Martin and North Hagerstown principal Bo Myers, representing Washington County, voted as part of the 66-member panel.

* The vote to reinstate the pole vault as a scored event ends a controversy which was a split caused by concerns over safety and expense.

After three pole vault related deaths nationally in the last year, concern arose over the safety of the event. On the scholastic level, a call was made to expand the landing pits, which would tack on an added expense to each school.

"The pole vault will be a scored event again in the 2003-2004 school year," Myers said. "There was a fear that it would be eliminated, but the vote brings it back while the state board will continue to study for more positives about the event."

This year, athletes were allowed to complete in the pole vault, but it was scored separate from the meet and didn't have a bearing on the team score.

"This year at the state meet, it won't be part of the team scoring," Myers said. "The vaulters will recieve six places and will be part of the meet, but not part of the scoring. The concerns were over the safety issues."

On Monday, Washington County will become the first county in the state to have all of its schools certified with the additional padding and enlargement of the pits to safely hold the event.

* The committee agreed to find a new venue for the state wrestling tournament from McDaniel College.

The event outgrew the capacity of the McDaniel gym, forcing the state to eliminate the double-elimination format, which came under fire.

The state will be looking to move the tournament to either the University of Maryland's Cole Field House or Morgan State in Baltimore, which will allow the double-elimination format to be reinstated.

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