A decision on whether or not to hold the New Balance Outdoor Nationals track and field meet in late July or early August in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is expected within the next eight to 10 days, assistant meet director Paul Limmer said.
“We are aware that the chances of us pulling off this event is slim,” he said.
The meet, which includes the top track and field athletes in the country and often features a strong Long Island contingent, was originally scheduled for June 18-21 in North Carolina. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting closures, organizers have set forth a tentative plan to hold the meet at Howard Wood Field, one of the premier facilities in South Dakota, Limmer said.
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, Limmer said
As of Tuesday night, the city of Sioux Falls was “all for” holding the meet, Limmer said. Now, organizers must wait to see if Sanford Health, the health care system that would staff the meet with doctors, trainers, and other first aid personnel is willing and able to do so.
“At this point, it would appear that they’re all for it,” Limmer said. “But, we’ll know that in a couple of days.”
Limmer said that the meet also would have to gauge the interest and willingness of athletes, and their parents, to make the trip to South Dakota in mid-summer. So far, the response has been extremely encouraging.
A survey was sent to perspective participants last week, and 83 percent of respondents were in favor of having the meet, Limmer said.
“It was far higher than I ever would have predicted,” he said.
Commack senior Nick Pisciotta, who is the indoor weight throw state champion and will attend Northeastern, said he is in favor of having the meet and said both his parents are on board as well.
“I would definitely compete in August,” he said.
Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly, a senior who is the top distance runner on Long Island and will attend Syracuse, said she would most likely not compete in the meet.
“I’m not really on a good training [regimen] right now, it’s sort of messed up with everything,” Connelly said. “I’m ready for Syracuse. I think, in high school, I’ve accomplished everything that I’ve wanted. I think I’m ready to move on instead of having a last chance to see what I can do at Nationals.”
Should the meet happen, Limmer said appropriate safety guidelines would be followed, including the taking of temperatures of people coming into the facility, the wearing of masks, and a “pre-clerking” system in which athletes would receive their heat and lane assignments prior to the meet and have to report to the track surface at a designated time, instead of gathering in a crowded area prior to the race and being herded to the track, as is usually the case. A limited number of fans is also a possibility, though nothing has been finalized, Limmer said.