New Balance Outdoor Nationals, the yearly track and field meet that pits the nation’s best high school athletes against each other and often features a strong Long Island contingent, will not be held this year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, assistant meet director Paul Limmer told Newsday Monday night.
The National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, which puts on the meet, confirmed the news in a press release Tuesday morning.
The meet had been tentatively scheduled for July 30-Aug 2 at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“In the interest of public safety and the interest of athlete safety, we decided that we would not hold this event,” Limmer said. “Unfortunately, that leaves thousands of kids wishing to put one more race on the track.”
The nine-member NSAF board, after weeks of deliberations, voted unanimously to scrap plans for the meet Monday night, Limmer said.
“We have to hold ourselves to the highest standard, and certain ‘boxes’ absolutely had to be checked in order to safely host the meet,” said NSAF Executive Director Jim Spier in the release. “And we could not with absolute certitude check all of those boxes.”
One of those boxes was COVID-19 testing, the required frequency of which would have been difficult to achieve, the release said.
“We needed to guarantee that every one of the several thousand athletes, coaches, and officials would be able to get the two COVID-19 tests within seven days prior to their last day of competition at the Championships, necessary to meet the recommendations and guidelines established by USA Track & Field in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee for the level of meet we wanted to host,” NSAF Medical Director Dr. Rob Jones said in the release. “and we could not do so.”
Limmer added that "they could only do 200 tests per day in Sioux Falls.”
Because the meet is not sanctioned by the New York State Public School Athletic Association, the cancellation of spring sports has no bearing on whether or not athletes can compete. Schools do not pay entry fees or provide uniforms for the event, according to Limmer.
New Balance Indoor Nationals, which was scheduled to be held at the Armory in Manhattan in March, was cancelled due to similar concerns.