A scheduling conflict between the Pinellas County Athletic Conference track meet and the Florida Relays is forcing some athletes, particularly those in distance events, to make tough decisions.
The PCAC meet is set for Thursday, the same day the Florida Relays start. Normally, the Florida Relays are held over two days, starting Friday. But the schedule was extended to three days this year. The bulk of the distance events for high school athletes in the Florida Relays (800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters) are held Thursday.
Countryside distance specialist Paul McKenna is one of the county runners who decided to skip the conference meet to run in the Florida Relays. McKenna, undefeated against Pinellas County competition in the 1,600 and 3,200, would have easily been favored to win both events at the conference meet.
But McKenna is still hoping to earn a track scholarship and needs to improve his time. The Florida Relays will allow him to run against tougher competition and push him toward the target time he needs.
“It will hurt us at conference,” said Eileen Givens, who coaches Countryside’s distance runners. “It might even cost us a shot at runnerup in the team title. But I’m doing this because I’m looking out for this kid’s future.”
There are other events at the Florida Relays on Thursday, such as the preliminaries of the 100 and 110 hurdles. Two county athletes nationally ranked in their events, Gibbs’ Trayvon Bromell (100) and Lakewood’s Tim Holmes (110 hurdles), are competing in the conference meet instead.
“We’re still trying to go out and win a conference meet,” Lakewood boys coach Anthony Snead said. “It’s hard for the guys who have events that fall on the same day. But we’ll try to have them run in some of the relays the rest of the weekend at Florida Relays.”
Pinellas County athletic director Nick Grasso said the expectation is that county athletes would participate in the conference meet.