By ELLIOTT DENMAN
photo courtesy Sue Pearrsall
NEW YORK - Six days after the last runner crossed the finish line, the men’s division of the USA Track and Field National Club Championships can at last recognize its team champion(s.)
And the winner is....the Shore Athletic Club of New Jersey, with 163 points.
And the winner is....Central Park Track Club, New Balance, with 163 points.
That’s right, they’re both winners. For the first time in the meet’s 11-year-history, the men’s USATF Club Nationals has co-champions.
And it took from 5 p.m. last Saturday, July 9, when the meet concluded at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, to late afternoon Friday, July 15, to get all this straight.
When USATF’s Andy Martin called representatives of the two contending clubs,
the drama of it all was finally over.
Apologies were extended for the record-length delay, but at last the two friendly-rival squads, their coaches and competitors, could rest easy. They finally knew this thing would not be delayed any longer.
Said USATF's Martin: “They’re both terrific teams. They both have terrific athletes. They made it a terrific meet.”
But oh, the ups-and-downs, the downs-and-ups, of it all.
With 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring in each of the meet’s 24 events, the sequence of events went this way:
At meet’s end last Saturday, defending champion Central Park (winner of the 2010 team title, when this meet was held in San Francisco) was declared the repeat winner with a total of 167 points, with trophies dispensed and wide smiles everywhere in the CP/NB camp.
Shore AC, which had won all previous editions of the men’s meet held at Icahn Stadium (2005, 2007 and 2009), was declared the runner-up, with 164 ½ points.
By Sunday, though, when the complete set of meet summaries was available on the USATF website, the accountants went to work. The auditors would find one glitch, then a second, a third, and finally a fourth.
First glitch: Central Park’s B team placed fifth in the 4x800 relay and was credited with four points, but the basic rule of the meet is that B teams can run but cannot score (only a club’s A team can score,)
Second glitch: Shore AC’s B team placed eighth in the 4x100 relay and was credited with a single point. The same rule applied. .
Thus, a net minus three for CP/NB and adjusted scores of Shore AC 163 ½, CP/NB 163. USATF’s computer Hy-Tek software hadn’t been configured for the “B team rule.”
Third glitch: The high jump provided a dramatic, down-to-the-last leap battle between Shore AC’s Adam Bergo (a Rutgers star) and CP/NB’s Leander Toney (out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.) Bergo would have the final clearance to win the jump-off, but USATF’s computers had, somehow, someway, been adjusted to indicate a tie, meaning nine points for each team, not SAC 10 and CP/TC 8. At last, too, this discrepancy was realized and the scores amended.
Fourth and final glitch: Pole vaulter Mike Brunoforte had registered with the Empire Vaulters club but somehow got listed as unattached, thus nullifying his scoring performance in the event that began in clear weather Friday, was then halted by rain, and at last completed Saturday.
Well, Brunoforte failed to make another height on Saturday but still earned a third-place finish for his Friday clearances. When he was at last reinserted into final results, it pushed SAC’s Raffael Craig back from fifth to sixth, a one-point subtraction.
And it thus became 163-163.
Of course, of course, any little differential along the way would have swung the team title one way or the other. Both teams’ performances - and that of their leading rivals from all over the nation - had plenty of potential for just that.
The list of ifs and might-have-beens was probably of record length, too.
But there were no more adjustments, no more discrepancies, no more ups, downs or missing nuggets of information.
Thus, end of the story.
One-hundred-sixty-three to one-hundred-sixty-three it will forever be.
USATF’s Martin pledged that every effort would be made to avoid any such
numbers games being played out at the 2012 edition of the National Clubs meet, to be held in
Omaha, Nebraska. The computers and the calculators would be in perfect order, he promised.
Hopefully, for so many of the Northeast clubs and athletes who traditionally support this meet so well - and set an array of competition records and boost attendance levels each time the meet is held in this vicinity - the meet will return to
Icahn Stadium in July 2013.
Finally, there was no such debate determining the winner of the women’s meet. Adjustments were minuscule. Final scores: 1. Norfolk Real Deal Club 138 ½ points. 2. Central Park Track Club, New Balance 126.